the year of making do 

this is the year of making do
with what's right in front of you, within your grasp
and i no longer have the audacity to ask
for things i don't think i deserve
cause i've already exhausted my reserve
of miracles and gifts
surely they've run out
and i don't wanna push my luck
i'm just looking for some rain
after a long drought

***

I wrote those lines a little more than two years ago, sometime in November/December 2021. Life was barreling towards Crazytown. We had been poking the bear for a while and finally decided to rattle the cage for real.  We got a case of the by gods, called a local realtor, and told her that we were considering putting our house on the market. We'd been dragging our heels on it for so long, weighing the pros and cons and making umpteen thousand lists, but finally it seems like enough forces were conspiring to move us in the sell direction, so we decided to ride that wave. 

***

But in true Camp Rowan fashion, we weren't just considering selling our house and half of our worldly possessions and relocating across the world; we were also diving into a making a new record. We'd been studying the calendar for a while, trying to find the right time to organize it with our band, and we realized that if we moved forward with selling the house, this would be our last chance to record in our studio in Dallas. Rip had built Electrofonic less than 10 years prior, expecting that it would probably outlast either of our desire's to make records, but life is what happens when you're making plans, and for reasons both tangible and not, we were ready to move on. 

***

We started making plans to have the band come to Dallas. We had some Delta credits leftover from the canceled Modern Age sessions in Texas, and they were expiring in 2022. We decided to go for it, Omicron be damned (naturally we had no sooner bought the tickets than case numbers started rocketing into the stratosphere worldwide -- both in Texas and in Italy).  We tapped our friend John Dufilho to help us make the record, only to have him come over and tell us about his very scary health battles (which helped inspire the song "how long" from the new album) and we realized that we couldn't have him in the studio with us on this project. Luckily our good buddy Joe Reyes was available, and we threw a lateral.

***

I had a bunch of half-finished songs on my hands that didn't sound anything like Modern Age. That wasn't really a huge problem for me, but I did wonder what direction this record would take, whether or not we were rushing into the recording sessions, whether or not we were making a mistake in selling the house, whether or not I had any good songs left in me. I was pretty much swimming in a sea of doubt, and you can hear that pretty clearly on a lot of these songs -- loud and clear on "Blind Curves," where I sing "so many paths that I could take, but lately all I see are possible mistakes staring back at me when I confront the day; sometimes it's so hard to get out of my own way."

***

Which isn't to say that these songs are dark or heavy, though if you've listened to my music at all over the last 20 years (!), you will have noticed by now the thin thread of ... let's call it introspection... that ties most of it together. I'm not a melancholy person by nature -- I just think I face a lot of life's uncertainty by throwing songs at it. It helps me work through whatever I'm wrestling with, and there was a lot to wrestle with in 2022. Pandemic exhaustion and nervousness. Guilt at further uprooting myself from my US family and friends. Anxiety for loved ones who were struggling, anxiety for the world at large. Practical matters, like selling cars and figuring out the paperwork involved in getting your dog across the ocean. And finishing at least 12 songs to the 85% mark, far enough along to be able to hammer out arrangements and hope that the lyrics came later (which is totally not how I normally work).

***

There were times in 2023 when I forgot entirely about the album, and times when I was afraid it might be the first record that I ever straight up binned.  Not because I didn't want to finish, but because I couldn't figure how to get started again. Losing momentum can be absolutely deadly to any project, no matter how beloved at the outset, and we were completely wiped out by the end of 2022 and well into 2023. It was just hard to see which way to turn. We didn't have a studio to work in, didn't have most of our best gear (whatever we hadn't sold was in storage in Texas), and in some cases I still didn't have finished lyrics. Everything was buffering at 93%.

***

"Pinball Heart" (the most fun song on the record) was the last domino to fall. Once we hammered out the harmonies and a put few more stray words into their place, we looked at each other and said -- it's done. And of course it's never done -- there's mixing, mastering, artwork, album release, etc... a million details are waiting to be addressed just on the other side of the finish line. But putting a bow on this album felt like a quiet but gigantic achievement. We could finally stop rolling up the stone. Our labors were done... and best of all, we were so proud of the record we had made. It's soft in the right spots, and a little pointy where it needs to be. There's plenty of grit in there, tucked into a barbed aside and nestled under a warm piano solo or shuffling train beat.

***

The album was almost called "The Year of Making Do." I'm glad we went with "Flying on Instruments," but I still love that phrase. That's the phrase that got us through many many days where we asked ourselves -- what in the hell are we doing, what in the hell have we done, what the hell should we do next? That phrase kicks off the album as the first line in "Beauty or Grace," and I can't think of a better way for this particular batch of songs to push off from shore.  T-minus 10 days until the album is out!

xoxo
v

maybe we're all living in a flood zone. 

Today I released a bonus track, "Flood Zone," to the folks that have pre-ordered the new album. It will be officially released next spring as part of a digital EP that will include "The Village," but until then it will only be available as a thank-you to folks that are helping us fund the release of the new record. We're about 20% of the way to our ultimate goal so all pre-orders are gratefully accepted here.

But back to the song itself. I often write songs by just sort of free-associating or journaling without an end goal in mind. This one began years ago, in one of my physical notebooks, as a brainstorm session. Part of it was inspired by the song "Pacific Street," by HEM, which I covered on the record I made with The Sentimentals. I always loved the line "there are oceans in our neighborhood," and I've always been kind of obsessed with water in my songwriting... lots of songs about sirens, about crossing the Atlantic, songs about sinking ships... rarely has water been a benevolent force in my songs, but it has always been present, lapping at the shores of my mind.

This song began as an imagining of folks down at their local neighborhood bar, deciding to ride out an incoming hurricane while drinking and playing darts. It's not that they don't think the threat is real; it's that they find more value in sticking together, in weathering the storm as a community, rather than abandoning their homes. The characters in this song don't trust the government or FEMA to save them; they have seen news coverage of previous storms, of people left stranded on their rooftops, of emergency relief funds that never seem to materialize.

Today, quite by chance, I found myself reading a WaPo article about a motel in Florida called El Rancho where several survivors of Hurricane Ian have been living for a year now. The article was heartbreaking and served to illustrate this exact scenario. These people lost their homes in the storm and have yet to be able to get back on their feet, as is so often the case after disasters like this. The article rightly pointed out that this problem will only grow as climate change drives more and more extreme weather patterns, and as the wealth gap widens ever further. With no savings cushion to fall back on, so many people are one storm away from losing it all.

When we started making cuts to the track list for the new album, "Flood Zone" was an obvious song to cut. Clocking in at just under 7 minutes, it's not really a song for the modern age and certainly not for putting on a vinyl record, but I love the guitar outro especially, so trimming it just wasn't an option. The decision to pair it with "The Village" for later release made a lot of sense, as "The Village" is also a song about community -- or rather, the lack thereof. "Flood Zone" is about a group of people who trust only in each other and know full well that they are at the mercy of bankers and levees; "The Village" is about the pervasive sense of loneliness in a world that is increasingly tied to a screen, a world in which we choose to cut ourselves off from one another. Both of those are themes that run through the new record, and I'm happy to know that these two songs will end up together in the end, representing a little coda to the album itself.

Many thanks to NOAA for putting this photo in the creative commons sphere so that we could use it for the artwork.

Pre-order "Flying on Instruments" and get a download of "Flood Zone" here.

tap tap... tap tap... is this thing on? 

On the internet, permanence, nostalgia, memory, and more.
A few weeks ago we discovered an AI bot was using my name to draw clicks to their computer-generated music. If you *know* what my music sounds like in any way whatsoever, you would never mistake one Vanessa Peters for the other, but if not, you might be inclined to click on the most recent release that shows up when you search for my name in Spotify or Apple Music. And this is a problem for a number of reasons, the first of which is that we’ve been sharing demos of our new music with publicists and industry folks and I don’t want this other Vanessa Peters (who doesn’t actually exist) to muddy the waters.

I had never bothered to trademark my name because, honestly, I never saw a need to do so. I’m not the only Vanessa Peters in the world, but it’s not a wildly common name, so I guess I always assumed that if by chance another musician named Vanessa Peters came along, she would change her name before hitting the record button — because it would be the logical business thing to do. Why risk losing clicks to another person with the same name? Alas, that is actually the strategy of the bots — generate some fake tunes with famous song titles (they released songs like “Jolene” and “Keep On Loving You” under my name) and hope that people click on either the artist or the song title to hear more, and in doing so, maybe they generate a play and the accompanying .0003 that play pays. Seems like a hard way to make a buck (trust me on this, bot), but there you have the scheme in a nutshell.

Turns out that the only way to fight this is to trademark “Vanessa Peters” as a brand — and I bet you can see me gagging a bit and rolling my eyes at the absurdity of the whole thing — but here we are. I’ve engaged the services of a lawyer and have embarked on this path, which leads me to the point of this post. In order to “trademark my brand,” I have to establish proof that I’m a legitimate business enterprise, that I’ve existed since X time in history, etc, all of which has led me to dive deep into my digital archives which are, um….. disorganized at best.

Like most creatives my age, I grew up with a foot firmly in the analog world, but a hand stretched towards the digital landscape, which is always changing and shifting and seems to sit just beyond my reach. My first website, www.vanessapeters.net, went live in 2002; later I was able to claim .com and have owned both for 20 years. I had a MySpace page that worked very well for me, and I was super late to Facebook; never really liked it and still don’t. I had a Blogspot page — https://vanessapeters.blogspot.com/ — that still exists, even though I haven’t updated it since 2010 (until today! more on that below). I used Tumblr for about a week, was a pretty half-hearted Twitterer except during baseball season, and have probably enjoyed Instagram most of all until the algorithms more or less rendered it ineffective for reaching my listeners. And this doesn’t even touch on Google Plus, or Sonicbids, which for a time was a must-have website for musicians looking to book gigs by themselves (something that was *way* easier in the mid-2000s and has become essentially impossible to do at scale at this point in time).

I have folder upon folder saved in my Drive cloud, and in Dropbox, and on a personal server, and on God-knows-how-many defunct jump drives and time machines. It’s all a hot mess and every time I open that digital drawer and take a peek, I get a little queasy and decide to tackle some other insurmountable task like self-employment taxes or booking a tour (see above).

My lawyer asked me for the first dates that my websites went live, and I had to call upon the Wayback Machine // Internet Archive to research myself. What a fascinating trip down memory lane that proved to be. It was both heartwarming and heartwrenching to see little VP.net morph over the years, to watch myself try to figure it out, making it up as I went along. I started making music at a time when DIY was all the rage — who needed a label, anyway? We indie artists were encouraged to do-it-all — and so I wrote press releases and booked tours and arranged recording sessions and crowdfunded my albums and helped drive the van and write and sing the songs and held down jobs and relationships and had a kickass credit score and paid off my student loans and more or less conquered the world until I was too tired to see straight. The two ends of the candle met in the middle and I was done. It’s funny (and sad) that the Wayback Machine doesn’t seem to have anything for the site from 2008-2010, because that was when we — Manuel and I, sometimes with and sometimes without ICOM — were at our busiest, playing more than 150 shows/year at one point. Running on empty, indeed.

Back then I kept a tour blog, but I stopped updating it when VP&ICOM were no more, and by the time I began to tour again, too many other social media sites had dug their claws into our collective conscious, and Blogspot seemed ancient and quaint. So it’s been interesting to see the rise of Substack, which seems like a fancier version of Blogspot or any of those original blogging platforms. Several of my favorite musicians — Neko Case, Joe Pernice, and others — have a Substack, and I have been thinking of starting one… but then I wonder if once again I’m just signing away my creative content to some other faceless service that will one day vanish, like ArtistData and Sonicbids and Myspace and GooglePlus and OneSheet and Tumblr and Flickr and LastFM and so many others more or less have (yes, I know some of them still exist but I assume you take my point). Would love to hear your collective thoughts on the relative merits of Substack over just a regular old blog, hosted right here on my own website. For now I'm updated the Blogspot page and importing it into my website, as it seems the most pratical thing to do. I'm nothing if not pratical (no doubt to a fault).

Speaking of websites: VP.com has continued to morph over the years. It’s now on its 3rd or 4th webmaster (the current one being the indefatigable and downright fantastic Rip Rowan, a man of many hats himself). It was lovely to flip through the archive and see each new version of the site that would accompany a new album release. There’s a new version up these days, as we inch ever closer to releasing new music. I know I've been saying for a long time that "new music is coming soon." If you could feel the pain that I feel, watching the record sit at 99% but not yet released into the world, you would be more forgiving of our repetitiveness. ;)

Let me know if this broadcast made it to any of you -- you can post below, or you can leave a comment on Instagram. Hope these smoke signals manage to cut through a bit of the noise. love and vermentino, vanessa

europe tour, 2010 

Another long tour has come to a close.

I’m sitting in the Texas sun, grateful to be on solid ground and not stranded overseas due to more volcanic activity. I’m grateful to be home with my friends and family, and I’m already missing my friends and family that I just left behind. I suppose it is my fate (initially, it was my choice) to live my life straddling the Atlantic Ocean, a part of me always missing the side that I am not on.

This was a fabulous tour in so many ways. The Italian shows were some of the best we’ve ever had. We were lucky to be graced with the presence of cellist and pianist Guglielmo Gagliano for a week of the shows, and it was awesome. Just when we got super comfortable on stage with each other… the tour ended. That’s what always happens. When your band lineup is constantly changing, you only get a few shows to settle into the groove, and once you’ve settled in, you spring out again and onto another country and another lineup. I’m glad for the few shows we did get to do with Ghando – here’s the link to one of them, live on Radio Popolare in Milano. There are 4 live tracks interspersed with chatter (take a listen and laugh at my TexItalian accent if you like).

We closed out the tour, as always, with an absolutely stellar show at the Velvet. Our lineup has changed considerably over the years – on stage that night, Manuel and I were the only original members of ICOM – but we are so blessed to count so many talented musicians among our friends, and we were so glad to have our long-time stand-in bassist, Gabriele Galimberti, on stage with us, and our new drummer, Dodi Wiemuth, plus Guglielmo on cello & piano. The Velvet stage is tiny but we crammed on there and did ourselves proud. Thanks, guys, for sharing your talent with me over the years. You are all amazing. Of course, enormous and special thanks goes to Manuel Schicchi, who has made all of these years of touring possible with his patience and hard work and dedication – and killer guitar licks, of course.

After the Italian tour, I flew up to Denmark to do a tour with my good friend MC Hansen and the Danish band The Sentimentals. MC & I did some wonderful house concerts, and The Sentimentals & I had three fantastic concerts together – again, just enough time to let loose, and then it was time to pack up again. We made some great friends along the way, and one amazing fan, Jesper, who created a Danish fan page for us, which you can check out here!

We also did the last show with my friend Sarah MacDougall, a Swedish-Canadian songstress who will knock your songs off when she comes to Texas to tour with me in August. Yeehaw!
A big thank you to Mads & Carina for taking such good care of me in Sweden & Denmark, and to The Sentimentals for learning my songs so quickly and playing so well. I can’t wait to get back to Scandinavia.

By a stroke of good luck, I boarded a plane from Copenhagen to Amsterdam on April 14 – one day before the entire European airspace was closed for a week due to the Icelandic volcano eruption. That would have been an unbelievable disaster if I had been stranded in Denmark, because we had a 12-day tour in Holland, Belgium, and Germany that started on the 15th.

We picked up where we left off with our good friend Alex Akela on violin, mandolin, and bass guitar. Alex is wonderful and always steps back on stage with grace and aplomb and never misses a beat or a note. It’s like he’s been on tour with us all year long. We had some wonderful shows in Holland, thanks to our booking agent Hans Jacobs at Stars’n’Strings, who always finds us great venues to play. The theater in Zwolle was especially wonderful, and our great friend (and host – thank you!) Klaas took some lovely photos of that show and you can see them here!

When we left Holland, we headed to Belgium for a few days, and spent an absolutely marvelous time at our hostel in Gent. This wasn’t just any hostel – it was EcoHostel Andromeda, and it was on a boat! Liselot and her architect husband Maarten designed and and restored the whole thing from an old rusty boat that they bought a few years ago. Everything is super-insulated and energy-efficient, and they recycle and compost everything. They use rain water for the toilets, and serve a delicious vegetarian / fair-trade breakfast. AND they are the nicest people ever. Wonderful and hospitable. I have never been so sad to leave a hostel. Check them out if you are traveling through Belgium.

Our shows in Belgium were awesome too – especially the one at Den Heksenketel, where we almost sold out of all our merch! Thank you, Evergem! Unfortunately I got sick the next day and basically lost my voice, which made our show at De Blauwe Plek pretty damn hard, but the audience was very kind and quiet and patient with my whispery thin vocals. :)

After Belgium we headed to Germany for two more shows. We played a private birthday party for our friends Peter & Katrin (who also took us out to a stupendous lunch on Sunday – thank you!!), and we returned to the lovely Bonni Haus in Gelsenkirchen. Both shows were great, made all the better by the presence of the Leibecke family, who always rolls out the red carpet when we come into town. It’s so nice to have a home on the road, and we are really lucky to have found them. They are always so kind to us, and it was such a lovely way to end the tour.

There are plenty of tour photos – here’s the public link to the Facebook albums (viewable even if you don’t have a Facebook account):

April shows

Italian tour

I’m back in Texas… have a few shows coming up, as well as the Texas Music Awards ceremony in a few weeks (eek! What to wear??) and then I’m going to take a bit of a break for a while. I’ve been burning the candle at both ends and straight through the middle so I’m finally going to listen to my grandmother, my mother, and everyone else who has said – hey, get some rest! Rest assured, rest is on the schedule. :)

with love and gratitude,
vanessa

vanessa peters goes outlet on you guys 

hey everyone!
i won't even apologize for not writing in this blog lately... i throw my hands up in despair. :) the fall of 2009 was so ridiculously busy, with shows all across the country in september & october, and shows in 5 countries in november, that i got to december completely winded, completely out of breath. i promptly got sick, got better, got sick again, got really sick, lost my voice (in the middle of tour!) and am now well again, thank goodness.

but i've learned that my insane tour schedule + booking + facebook + myspace + breathing just takes up more than the 24 hours allotted to me every day. so some things are going to have to fall by the wayside... and whether i like it or not, this blog seems to keep falling that way. hopefully i'll pick it back up and be a regular blogger like i once was, because i miss it. it was a great way to talk to all of you, and to record my travels... without it, they become kind of blurry in the rearview. but that's how it is.

BUT! that's not why i'm writing. :)
i recently re-ordered some copies of "sweetheart" (hooray!) and the printer did a less than stellar job (bummer). the audio cds are completely perfect but the artwork printed a little darker than i would have liked. so now i've got all of these cds that i want to unload quickly so i can order new ones.

SO! if you've been wanting to order "sweetheart" but just hadn't gotten around to it, here's your chance! i'm selling these copies for only $7 dollars + FREE shipping! That's cheaper than iTunes, cheaper than anywhere on the internet. These are brand-new copies, and I'll gladly autograph them if you like. Here's the link to buy the "outlet" version of "Sweetheart":






Text for autograph/dedication:





I'm also running a big sale on tees. I'm trying to clean out my inventory before the next album comes around... I have a pretty limited stock left but the tees that I have are now on sale for $8 and SHIPPING IS FREE! Here's the button for you to order the tees... just click on it to see which sizes and colors are still available.







Style / Color / Size






Thank you so much for these orders - it will be very helpful since I'm headed out on another 3 month tour shortly....

big love from a little boat,
vanessa

fish'n'chips, the cords that tie us to modern life, meet me in montana 

We’re driving up to Cambridge and London for a few days of free time before the tour picks up steam again. The end is finally in sight – it’s been a long year of many many miles and many stages and though it’s been fun, I’m beginning to get the shakes just thinking about sleeping in my own bed.

After wrapping up the US tour, we flew over to Italy and had a few days to gather our wits (and gear) about us before we headed up to England for this tour. We drove in our own car because it was cheaper than flying and honestly, we had far too much gear to fly – we’re out on the road for a month, and between clothes and CDs and guitars and cables and everything else, we would have been laughed out of the airport if we’d decided to go that route. So we drove.

While we were packing, we began to realize exactly how much STUFF we have to (choose to) bring on tour…between ipods and the GPS and blackberries and regular phones and scotch tape and duct tape and masking tape and different adaptors for every cell and computer charger… to think it used to be a guitar and a microphone….

box full of maps and books


box full of cords and electronics



food box!


success! the best part is that i don't remember how i did it... so i can keep playing!



Anyhow, we decided to pass through Paris on our way to Calais – I have an old friend living there and we needed a good place to break up the drive. Google Maps had suggested that we pass through Germany but we paid no heed…and paid dearly for it. I think the suggestion arises largely from the fact that the roads in Germany are free… and the roads in France aren’t. From Manuel’s house to the Italian border, we paid 45 euro in Italian tolls; we then paid 35 euro simply to drive through the Mont Blanc tunnel. By the time we got to Calais to catch our ferry, we’d paid another 60 euro in tolls to cross France. On top of that, we made a very distressing discovery the first time we filled our tank in France.

Manuel’s car is dual-fuel powered; it runs on regular gasoline/petrol and on LPG – liquid petroleum gas, which is significantly cheaper than gasoline (about 55p per liter instead of 1.05 per liter). Apparently every country in Europe uses a different nozzle for pumping LPG and you have to have an adaptor for each one. This was a total shock to us; electrical outlets, yes. Monetary units, okay. Driving on different sides of the road, no problem. But adapters for putting fuel in your car?? Really?? Needless to say we were in a bit of a panic at that point, having just spent 80 euro on tolls in the span of 10 minutes and knowing that we had all of France to cross…and knowing that now we’d be paying 1.40 euro instead of .60 euro per liter. Panic set in.

But at the same time – what could we do? Neither of us speaks French. So we filled the car and drove on in the pouring rain, desperate to get to Paris and friendly faces. We arrived at long last, nearly 14 hours after we left Castiglion, and had our first real stroke of good luck all day – a parking spot directly outside of their apartment! Zoe and Pascal welcomed us into their lovely little flat, located in the Sacre Coeur district of the city. After a late dinner we climbed up to the cathedral, as much to stretch our legs as to see the church.

The next morning we hurried out the door to get to Calais, where we were to catch our ferry to Dover. We got there with plenty of time to spare, but we were held up at the border crossing while they investigated my work papers. Computers were down and it took forever, so we missed our ferry, but luckily there was another in just half an hour so we were able to catch that one. I was excited by the crossing in a very childlike way – it had been forever since I’d been on a boat (strange, as my friend Marybeth pointed out, since most of the songs on our new record are nautical in theme). We threw our budget to the wind, said to hell with our sandwiches in the car, and ordered two big plates of fish and chips and ate by the window, watching the cliffs of Dover come into view.

"coffee" and "soup" from a machine...


Our first show was that same night, at a lovely little pub called The Beehive in the town of Swindon. The audience was warm and friendly, and it was a nice, gentle way to start the tour – no high-pressure theatre stage, no stressful drunken crowd to sing over. Just really kind people in a lovely atmosphere.

Getting ready for bed that night, I encountered my old nemesis – the English faucet. Can someone please explain this to me? Why on earth is there a tap for the hot water (always very very hot) and a separate tap for the cold (always very very cold)? There is no way to wash your face without burning the everlovin’ skin off your hands and face. I usually cup my hands under the cold water, fill them a third of the way, then add the boiling hot water to the mix and achieve something reasonable…but goodness, it’s a lot of work.

The next morning we woke and drove to get our LPG adaptor – for a mere 35 pounds. Gaaaaaahhhh. We had found it online for 5 euro but couldn’t figure out the logistics of ordering and shipping it. In any case, we finally filled up the car (for 20 pounds instead of 45, which was nice) and headed to Bedford. We made a quick detour in Oxford, where we had lunch with my friend Sarah, who got her masters there. Just walking around the buildings and the library made me itch to be back in school. The rain had abated, if only briefly, we had a really pleasant couple of hours there.

the market in Oxford


Our show that night was at Harpur in Bedford was organized by Jez Brown, who puts on the Bedford Live shows. It was great fun – the venue was lovely, the food was stellar, and we really enjoyed ourselves. A local band called Tinker Jack opened for us and they were fantastic – very talented folks.

The next morning we took a detour to Cambridge to see our friend Franco, a guy from Manuel’s hometown who is waiting tables in Cambridge. The world is so tiny – he has been working for two years at the venue where I played in Cambridge in August 2007. We went there for lunch and when we pulled up I just busted out laughing – I couldn’t believe it was the same one. We had an awesome three hour lunch – the place is run by a guy from Castiglion Fiorentino, actually, so we had a typical lunch of antipasti, cheeses, olives, salami, bread, followed by pasta and all accompanied by lots of red wine… it was a miracle that we were able to stop eating long enough to get in the car and head to our show in Bristol.

Our show in Bristol was nice as well – we played a venue called The Prom, and we played on Guy Fawkes Day, so I was a bit worried. GF Day is Fireworks Day in the UK and I was expected a pub full of loud and drunken revelry, but instead we had a nearly listening room environment and even sold a good number of CDs. A nice surprise.

The next day we slept in, took a walk across the Clifton Bridge (an early Victorian engineering wonder – one of the world’s first suspension bridges, hanging gracefully over the Avon Gorge), and had a quick lunch at Pieminster (absolutely fantastic pies…. Free-range meat, everything locally sourced, hand-made pastry crust… just delicious). We then headed back east to East Grinstead, south of London. If you’ve been following on the map, you’ll see that we’ve crossed the country at least four times by now – Dover to Swindon to Bedford to Cambridge to Bristol to EG….only to head back west the next day (and today we’re headed east again…good thing the distances here are so much more manageable).

Clifton Bridge in Bristol



Our venue in EG was another little gem called Grub Café. One of our fans, Terry, helped get us booked here, and he and his lovely wife Vicki put us up for the night at their cozy little house in Seven Oaks. One of my favorite things about England so far, dueling faucets aside, is the trend towards local everything. Every café we’ve eaten at has locally-sourced produce, meat, grain…everything is fresh and handmade and there’s a real attention to the taste of the food. The dinner we had at Grub was simple – chicken breast for me, a burger for Manuel – but it was outstanding. The owner, Steven, is really passionate about good food and good music, and I hope they continue providing a home for both for a long time to come.

That night, as we drove to Terry and Vicki’s house, we were searching in vain for a radio station. Something is weird with our radio (another European stumbling block?) and we can’t seem to pick up any British stations – maybe one or two on the whole dial. We managed to get a BBC radio station tuned in (with a great deal of static) and we listened to the program for a while. They were trying to get people to call in songs with all 50 state names. We caught the number so I called in for the heck of it – I had already though of songs for Iowa, Mississippi, Louisiana, New York, and Montana by the time someone finally picked up. We ended up being patched through to the DJ, who had me sing part of my song (I suggested “Meet Me in Montana” by Dan Seals) and it was pretty hilarious, because I sang it rather terribly (I wasn’t expecting to perform via cell phone that evening) and then the DJ asked me what I was doing in the UK, if I was on holiday, etc., and I had to admit that I was a musician on tour, which was pretty hilarious after my less-than-convincing debut on his program. But he got my name and wished us the best of luck on the tour and we got some free publicity out of a random late-night trivia phone call.

The next morning we had to get up very early and drive to Southampton – we were scheduled to play on the “Sally on Saturday” program on BBC Radio Solent, hosted by local TV and radio celebrity Sally Taylor. It was great fun – we played for a small studio audience, and Sally was super kind, as was Geoff, the producer of the program who had arranged for us to perform at the last minute. At some point I ended up telling the story of the previous night’s radio call-in, and I mentioned that I had no idea which radio program it was. Some listeners called into the studio to tell us we’d been on Paul Miller’s program on the very same BBC station – so the engineers were even able to copy the program from the archives for us, and now I have a CD of myself singing “Meet Me in Montana,” badly, on national radio. :)

From Southampton we headed across the southern coast of England, stopping for another round of fish and chips (natch) for lunch, as well as some locally produced Dorset ice cream (delish). We were lucky to be treated to a really gorgeous day, full sunshine, and thank goodness, because the Dorset and Devon countryside is some of the prettiest I’ve seen anywhere in the world. So green it seems impossible, the pastures full of sheep and cattle (no corn-fed cows here), manor homes that probably belonged to the Duke of Wessex himself, steep hills and sweeping valleys that lead out to steep Jurassic and Triassic cliffs that plunge down the cold waters of the English Channel below. Absolutely incredible.

English countryside


After winding through numerous country back lanes, we arrived at the home of Bob and Claire, our English booking agents and all-around marvelous people. We chatted with them about the previous nights’ gigs and then got ready for the night’s show at The Windjammer in Dartmouth. Another night of good food and good people, and then we both fell asleep in the car on the way home, so grateful to have someone else driving for a change.

We slept very late the next morning and then Bob & Claire took us on a walk along the cliffs near their home. There’s a lovely public footpath above the town of Sidmouth that apparently covers the entire coast of England, and we walked a bit of it and met some friendly cows along the way. It was bitterly cold and windy out, but there was a fragile, buttery sunshine that took the edge off a bit, and I must say that it was one of the prettiest places I’ve ever seen – and this in November. I can only imagine in spring or summer.

The English cow that I befriended


On a walk with Bob & Claire


After our cliffside walk, we went down into the town of Sidmouth for a pint of English ale and then headed back to Bob & Claire’s home to get ready for the night’s show. Our venue this time was in the seaside town of Lyme Regis (famous as being the setting for the French Lieutenant’s Woman) and we played the gorgeous Marine Theatre. Sadly the crowd was rather small (everywhere, there’s talk of the crisis) but they were absolutely wonderful and warm (in Italian they say “pochi ma buoni” – few but good). We sold a lot of CDs and really enjoyed talking to everyone after the show.

This morning we wanted to get up early and drive to Cambridge but it was foggy and cold out so we all slept in a bit and had a long breakfast with Bob & Claire before heading out. They used to run a place called Otterton Mill, which was a bakery/restaurant/music venue (my dream job) until they just couldn’t do it any longer – it just wore them out. Apparently it was a magical place – every single thing sourced locally – it was an old water mill, so they even ground their own spelt flour with grain from a farmer in nearby Lyme Regis – and live music every week of the year, every single show a sellout. They believe passionately in music and local food and are just wonderful people. We’ve already had many a conversation with them about the state of the world, and we all end up kind of vaguely depressed at the end of the conversation – but their dry British humor lightens the mood just in time.

It IS a state we’re in though. All the wildlife that’s disappearing, all of the people who are spend, spend, spending on things that will just be thrown away instead of investing in the world and its citizens, how we’re all made of 80% corn thanks to sodas and twinkies and hamburgers from corn-fed cattle, how the whole thing is so overwhelming that most people just want to sweep the disaster under the rug and go on with their earbuds in their ear and pop-candy playing on their iPods….it’s exhausting if you start to think about it. I, for one, have been thinking about it more and more in the last few years, and it’s very probable that these will be my last tours for a while. I can no longer justify the traveling (I shudder to think of the damage we’ve done with our flights and fast food and miles and miles of driving) and I really feel like we all need to get our hands dirty and pitch in and DO something before it’s too late. It may not be the apocalypse, but the world is changing, and we need to make sure it’s changing for the better. I am not sure what 2010 will bring us, but I hope to say that I’m somewhere making a difference. I do believe that music makes a difference, but I also believe that something a bit less abstract is needed, and though I’m just one person … each of us is just one person, and as a group of ones, we have gotten into this mess... and I do believe (I have to believe) that as a group of ones, we can get ourselves out. I certainly hope so.

Off to bed.... rest is needed around these parts. :)
Sweet dreams to you all.
v

acoustic remixes, ringtones, and lots of time on the road... 

Hey everyone!
Sorry it’s been so very long since I’ve written… my best excuse really is a good one. We spent the whole spring, from Jan 29 until April 28, on the road. We played … I’m not sure… 70 shows maybe? in 5 different countries and since we got home, I’ve been avoiding the computer as much as possible. :) Now I’ve jumped back in though, because I’m busy booking shows for our fall tour. We’re going to be:

* all over America (joined by our great friend Alex Akela!!)
* in the UK and Ireland (as an acoustic duo)
* in Holland, Germany, and Belgium (as an acoustic trio and sometimes as the band)

and possibly a few other European countries as well. If you want us to come to your town, play at your university, or do a house concert for you and your friends, just send me an email! You’ll find all the contacts under, well, contacts. :)

Other great stuff:
We are working on some acoustic versions of the songs from “Sweetheart” and if we have time/money, we’re hoping to release an acoustic EP this fall with some of the remixes. It will likely just be a digital release but we’ll see.

We already contributed one track (a guitar+cello+vanessa remix of “Coming to Meet Me”) to the “Save Paste” campaign. You can read more about that here and see the download vault full of songs (including ours!) here.

Also, we’ve jumped on the ringtone bandwagon! We decided “Okay From Now On” and “Little Films” were great places to start. I think OFNO makes the happiest ringtone ever. :)

This summer we’re playing a few festivals in the Netherlands and Italy before we head back to the States this fall for our big tour there. I guess that’s all…. I’ll try to be a better communicator, so check back for updates soon!

Big hugs,
Vanessa

big sale on tees! 

i'm trying to get my inventory back under control... so right now we're doing a special on these sizes and colors.... unless noted, these are unisex american apparel, 100% cotton tees...

right now they are only $10 with FREE domestic shipping!! (please add $3 for international shipping costs).

just send an email with your order to info@vanessapeters.com or place your order directly by using paypal. your paypal payment (which can be done with your bank or credit card) should go to acousticgirl01@hotmail.com.

CRANBERRY in small, medium, and large



FOREST in large only


BROWN in medium & large


ROYAL BLUE in small, medium, and large


GOLD in medium & large


BABY BLUE in small & medium





We also have our NEW PEGASUS TEES on sale in certain sizes and colors. These are only $12 with free S&H (again, please add $3 for international shipping). Please ignore the colors that aren't specifically listed below. :)



RED OR BROWN UNISEX in medium, large, and xl

BABY DOLL TEES - AQUA, BROWN, RED, or ASPHALT GRAY in small, medium, large, xl, and 2xl. Please be aware that these are more fitted than the unisex tees and run small!!!

Any questions, just shoot me an email. As an additional bonus - you can add a copy of our new album, "Sweetheart, Keep Your Chin Up," and we'll round the whole thing off to $22. BAM! Insta-summer-fun. :)

xoxo
vanessa

alpacas, graceland, and the full band (but not in that order) 

It’s late, and Skid Row is (regrettably) playing on my radio, probably for the first time ever. But it’s okay, because Manuel is driving and it’s keeping him awake. It’s 9:30 at night and we’re not even to Texarkana, which means that even if we grow wings, we probably won’t be home before 1 am. We actually started this journey at 8 pm yesterday evening, but a 5 hour detour through Graceland has kept us from getting home at a reasonable hour.

We began this tour what seems like months ago… and I guess if you count the Europe portion, it was months ago. The US tour began exactly a month and 7000 miles ago. We’ll wrap it up this weekend and by then we’ll easily be at 8000, maybe more.

We kicked everything off with some incredible full-band shows in Texas. It had been years since we’d played in Texas with the whole band, and I am so glad we finally got to do it again to celebrate the release of the new record. A big thank you goes out to Gabriele Galimberti and Aneil Naik for filling in on bass during that leg of the tour. We had some great shows with Salim Nourallah and Buttercup and Monco Pancho and just generally enjoyed those few weeks, hectic though they were.

Here are Gumo and Gabriele, pretending to be very rock'n'roll in our rehearsal space in Austin:


And here we are at my favorite rest stop on I-10. These guys would make great spokesmen for Dr. Pepper.


We played our show in Austin on April 4th; on April 5th, the Nessie Brown Trio (me, Manuel, and Gumo) loaded up the car and began our trek into the great (and still frozen) expanse of the Midwest. We had many a car argument as to why it’s called the Midwest – and looking at the map, it’s true, as the boys point out, that it’s more Mideast than west. I tried to explain the whole going-west thing but I am not sure they bought it. It’s amazing the things you can discuss (argue) when you have 10-12 hours to spend in the car (as siblings the world over know very well).

We drove north in a ferocious wind that even brought us a bit of snow somewhere near St. Louis (where we did jumping jacks in the parking lot of a rest area in some sort of mad effort to fend off sleepiness). We stayed the night with our new couch-surfing friends, Emma and Kyle, and then drove the next day to Chicago, where we stayed with the wonderful McDonough family. Manuel & Gumo made dinner and we all sat around talking until late into the evening, even though all of us had to get up very early the next morning.

The NBT had its first show in Waukesha, Wisconsin, at Waukesha County Technical College. Perhaps a strange way to start the tour, but it was a great one, not the least of which was due to the hospitality and kindness of Paul B. Wisconsinites (?) are some of the friendliest people I’ve encountered on the road. Chris in Lake Geneva, Kate in Sheboygan, and Brian & Nikki in Marshfield all did their best to make us feel loved and cuddled.

In the midst of all of this madness, we found out that Alberto would have to return to Austin for his INS interview, so we had to cancel our Minneapolis show (sorry, guys!) in order to take him to Chicago. We had to put the poor sucker on a Greyhoud for a 24-hour bus ride back to Austin….

After a few days off, Manuel and I did 5 shows as the acoustic duo. Thanks to the folks in Cincinnati (Donna Frank and the whole Top Cats gang) for the show on Friday, and thanks as well to the McDonough family and Cary Neeley for organizing two amazing house concerts in Chicago and Indianapolis. Those two shows were the perfect way to wrap up our northern tour.

We hung out for a day at Heather's house and made friends with the fluffiest alpacas I have ever seen:


Our Indy house concert wins the award for most creative venue so far...we played in a hair salon run by Cary Neeley. It was actually awesome - they did a great job organizing everything and getting people out on a rainy Sunday afternoon. Thanks to Heather and Cary and Lamar and Ernest and Kevin and everyone else who helped!


After the Indy house concert, we made one last stop at Roscoe’s Tacos (yay!!!)….it’s one of my favorite taco shacks, in Greenwood, Indiana, of all places. Their Texas Brushfire sauce is AMAZING.


Then Manuel and I started the drive back to Texas, stopping for the night at a rest area. I always feel most like a gypsy when I sleep at a rest area. I don’t do it too often but when I do, I always have bizarre dreams and I’m always a bit afraid to open my eyes when I awake, afraid I’ll see some random face peering back at me through the car window glass. Eek.

We woke to gorgeous, spring-time weather, and at Manuel’s behest, we made a small detour through Memphis so he could finally visit Graceland. He read an Elvis bio last year and he was dying to see it. First we stopped at Neely’s BBQ, a Memphis BBQ hotspot that has been featured on the Food Channel. It was pretty darn good, though maybe Peggy Sue’s is better.


As for Graceland….I have to say… it just made me sad. It was fun and kitschy and all the things you would expect, but just the thought of Elvis made me sad. For one, he was known for being a very generous man, always giving away money to strangers, cars to his secretaries, donations to charity… and it made me mad that our tickets were $35 each (plus $10 parking, natch), and I doubt much of it goes to anything other than the giant Elvis bank account. I remember reading that, even today, the Elvis empire makes millions and millions of dollars a year on trademarked items. Who knows where the money goes… but I hope some of it goes to a good cause.

Anyhow, it was sad for other reasons. This poor man made so many people mad with happiness, positively crazed with joy when they saw him perform…. but like so many people in his position, he was lonely. He was strung out on painkillers and didn’t have a lot of inner peace. He kept crazy hours because he couldn’t go out during the day without being beseiged by fans. I guess it’s the curse and the blessing of celebrity but it reminded me that I am quite happy doing my small house concerts and driving myself around in my own car. I am not sure I’d ever want the tour bus life.


After our afternoon at Graceland, we loaded up the car and finished the long drive to Dallas…. And I must say we arrived at the house, at 1 am, with completely fried brains. We’ve spent the last few days unloading the car, doing CD and tee inventory, doing laundry, entering receipts in Excel…all the exciting post-tour madness. And now we’ve got a few more shows this weekend before we head back across the seas.

Check us out on Twitter and check out the new videos posted on YouTube. (I've just linked one, there are several). And here's the photo album from the whole tour.

Thanks for reading, we'll see you there one day soon...
vp & icom.

piglet, the five lands, oatmeal and beer 

It's a sunny day in Texas and I'm trying to catch up on everything. My stomach is full (peach scone and fancy-schmancy breakfast burrito from Brasil) and I'm happy to be back home. But I just finished uploading all the pictures from the tour so I thought I would recap those 6 weeks of madness....

I think I left off somewhere in Italy. That was the busiest tour we've ever done in Italy - 24 shows in 28 days. Lots and lots and lots of driving up and down the A1 autostrada. We had a great time though. We got to play some shows with our new drummer, Dodi (who was the drummer from our old drummer Alberto's band The Gumo...confused yet?), and that was a blast. We so rarely get to play as the full band, and I love hanging out with these guys....they are so freaking funny, and fun to play with. I'm very lucky to be surrounded by such talented musicians.

We had a great show in Udine as part of a tribute series to Fabrizio de Andre, considered one of Italy's greatest songwriters. We stayed in this unbelievably deluxe agriturismo, ate like champs, and made a new friend, Nicolas from Slovenia (Udine is right on the Slovenia/Austria/Italy border area). We are not entirely sure why, but he kind of fell in love with me... and gave me a gift at the show: an oversized stuffed Piglet doll. You'll be seeing more of Piglet in blogs to come.

The drive back home from Udine was a typically epic adventure for us... should have been 4 hours, ended up being 9... it involved various forced detours (due to highway accidents) and the car window motor dying as we reach the Apennines (the cold mountains that we had to drive through on the way home). Manuel rolled down the window to pay yet another exorbitant toll and the window remained stuck ... so we had to bust out the duct tape and a handy piece of plastic:



While Manuel and Dodi taped the heck out of the window, I stayed in the back, shivering and hoping for the best, taking comfort in my new friend:



We finally did make it home, though we feared Dodi would never return to play with us after such an epic drive.... but happily we were wrong and we made it up to him the following weekend.

In the meantime, we had a trio show with Juri at the magnificent Folk Club in Torino... which remains one of the best venues I have ever played at. Incredible sound, incredible audience, the nicest people.... if there were more venues like the FC, there would be no need for unhappiness in the world. It's just the greatest place ever. From there we went to Savona, where it was warm enough to take a walk on the beach before our show... and from there to Cuneo, where everything was still covered in snow.





But the greatest part of our Italian tour was the half day we had free towards the end.... we were between Piacenza and La Spezia and that can only mean one thing.... free day at the Cinque Terre! Amazingly, none of the guys had ever been (I've been 5 or 6 times... it's one of my favorite places in Italy) so I played tour guide and took them around Riomaggiore and Manarola (all we really had time for). This is us hanging out on the rocks of Riomaggiore... what a goofy band I have:



We had another great show that night at Pegaso (!) near La Spezia, and then we drove all night (translation: Manuel drove all night, Dodi talked to him and kept him awake, I slept soundly in the backseat with Piglet). We used the next day to do laundry, pack, say hello and goodbye to everyone in Italy, and the next day we were on a plane to Holland. Sheesh.

We had an awesome tour this time in Holland, Germany, and Belgium. We always do but these shows were for the most part exceptional. A great show at Radboud University in Nijmegen... a simply incredible show at Thalia in Baarlo.... a super fun show at Crossroads Radio with the Shiner Twins... 'Toogenblik in Brussels.... the royal treatment at 't Ey in Belsele, and a screamer of a show in Gelsenkirchen, Germany to close the tour. We have our incredible friends (Hans & Dietmar) to thank for their help in booking, as well as our friends (H&D again, plus Anja, Femke, Ronald, Dagmar, Arianna, Eveline, Bert, Eva, Erlinde, and Pieterjan) to thank for hosting us, feeding us, letting us do laundry, and generally making us feel loved and wanted. And of course ENORMOUS thanks goes to Alex Akela, for coming with us to all the shows and generally kicking ass on every instrument he touches.

Some highlights from the trip:

Giant bowling balls in Eindhoven


Amsterdam at sunset, from the Amsterdam Central Library


Rocking our LaraBar stickers, live on TV in Amsterdam



Tongenworst. Could you eat this?


Me being SUPER rock'n'roll... I'm eating flax seed oatmeal after our gig at 'toogenblik. The guys tried to make me seem cooler by putting a Belgian beer nearby but I was having none of it.


By the way, this is a good review of our gig at 'toogenblik:
http://www.last.fm/event/883150/reviews

All in all, it was such a great tour. We finished our last show in Germany, got a tad bit lost I think on the way back to Holland, dropped off Alex at midnight (but not before eating fries and kroket together one last time, hooray!), and then drove towards Amsterdam, stopping at gas station and sleeping for a few hours in the car. I flew out early that morning to America, and Manuel flew to Italy... and now he's arriving in a few hours. I'll go pick him up in Houston, we'll drive to Shreveport, play a show, see my dad, drive to Austin, practice with the guys, and then load up the car one more time for BAND SHOWS IN TEXAS!!! YEE-HAW!!! I'm pretty freaking excited about that. :)

Keep an eye on YouTube, I think some videos of our tour will be appearing soon...

little peachy kisses to you all,
vanessa