America, check. Holland, check. New album, in progress....

An update! It’s incredible, but true.
I can’t believe I used to blog weekly, even daily…. either my life has increased in craziness by two-thousand fold, or I’ve become overwhelmed by the myspace-facebook-blogger-website update-time-suck that has become my life. :)

When I last wrote, we were headed to America to work on the new album, and so much has happened since then that I hardly know where to start. Just before leaving Italy, we locked ourselves in the studio for three long, late nights of recording the drums with Alberto. We were there most nights until 2 am (including my birthday!) but in the end it was worth it, because we got drum tracks that we are really proud of.

So we flew to America and did a few shows right off the bat in Shreveport and in Dallas (which was a super-fun house concert with our friends Wise Turtle – thank you to Sam and fam for organizing it all!). Then, still very jet-lagged and sleepy, we woke up on Monday morning and headed to Salim’s for our first recording session.

This was our first time to work in the studio since it had been remodeled and it’s so great. It was wonderful even before but now it’s even more comfortable – Salim and Rip really did a tremendous job with the redesign. We transferred the drum tracks over, Salim gave them the seal of approval, and we got right to work with the acoustic guitar. In a day or two we had finished all of my acoustic guitar tracks, plus a few songs where Manuel plays acoustic, and then we started laying bass (Salim plays bass on many of the songs) and we began working on Manuel’s electric guitar parts as well. We saved the vocals for last because I prefer to sing over as much “stuff” as possible, because it gives me more the feeling of performing with the whole band, and I feel like I put a lot more intensity into the songs if I have the band behind me. This is a different approach than we’ve taken on any other album (the previous times we weren’t able to record in that order due to continent restraints, aka, the band was in Italy and I was in America, so we did voice and acoustic first and added bass and electric and everything else later), and I feel like you can hear the difference in the vocal performance.

In between all of the recordings, we had some amazing shows, thanks to our fantastic friends and fans in Texas. We’d like to thank all of our fans in Dallas, Austin, Houston, San Antonio, and B/CS for absolutely packing the house at those shows – those were some of the best we’ve ever had back home, and it was a really nice way to finish the tour. Thanks also to everyone who played with us – Ken and Wayne and Jenny in Houston, and Salim in Austin and Dallas.

So we left America after a scant month that was jam-packed with shows, recording, a day at Barton Springs, a day at the State Fair of Texas (complete with fried green tomatoes, natch), and much driving along I-35 and I-45 and I-20 and other I’s in between. We had a new toy to play with, our Flip camcorder, and it allowed us to take some footage of said adventures, and we’re currently posting them to YouTube – they should all be up soon. Thanks also to our roadie in Texas, Ms. Lacey Rae, who did a fantastic job of taking cover, stringing Christmas lights, and generally bringing joy to all during her short tenure as Tejas Road Manager.

After America we headed straight to Holland for a week’s worth of shows and more recording with our friends Alex Akela (Holland) and MC Hansen (Denmark). We had a great show at JC De Bunker in Gemert, a small club in the countryside of Holland with a very attentive audience and kickass sound. The next day we were off to Germany for a house concert with D. and his family. It was probably the highlight of our tour. The hosts were magnificent – so kind, so organized, so wonderful, and the audience was wonderful – they even sang along with us on an Elvis cover! We sold enough CDs to cover our Monday recording session, so that was a huge relief. The next day we had two shows – one in Alkmaar with our friend MC, and another that night in Enkhuizen, and then the next day we headed to Almelo with the lovely and very talented Merel Hutten. She’s amazing – her voice really takes you…somewhere ethereal. I have no idea. She’s great.

Monday morning we woke up early (after very little sleep) and picked up Alex and MC, who were totally good sports about the early hour. We all drove to Zolder, Belgium, just across the border for our recording session with Willemien, who is a friend of Alex’s and is in a band called Hazy Jane (check ‘em out, they are great too). We worked all day – well, Alex and Willemien and MC worked all day while Manuel and I did a bunch of filming of MC’s sandwich crafting and Alex’s fiddlin’. :) It was great, actually. I’m going to post a video from the time in the studio as soon as I can edit it down a bit – you probably don’t need to see us drinking tea or MC slicing cucumbers for his sandwich supreme.

After the studio day, we dropped off the guys in Nijmegen and then went to Rotterdam so that we’d be there already for our one “real” day off. Best laid plans went slightly awry and we ended up driving around downtown Rotterdam, very lost, for about an hour at 1 o’clock in the morning. But we finally made it to our StayOkay hostel where we did just that. The next morning we got up to find – RAIN – but it passed and we took Heather around the city. I like Rotterdam – it’s very city-ish, but it’s fun anyhow. We went to a fantastic museum – the Koolhaas-designed Kunsthal, which had an amazing photography exhibit by Jan Banning and a huge exhibit of Giacometti’s work. The photo exhibit was great – it was called “Bureaucracies,” and it featured various paper-pushers from countries all over the world. The photos were truly exceptional – especially in juxtaposition with one another, where on the one hand you had a photo of a Texas Ranger (the elite sheriff corps in Texas), whose desk was bursting with paper, photos, a deer’s head on the wall, coffee mugs, shiny brass plaques everywhere, and next to it, the media manager for a library in Monrovia, Liberia, who had one broken chair in his completely bare office and 2 DVDs on his desk alongside one sheet of paper and a pencil. The captions were in Dutch but I understood enough to know their positions and monthly salaries – almost $6,000 a month vs $17 a month. It was pretty incredible. There were photos from Russia, Bolivia, Liberia, France, Texas, Holland, and parts of China and India. You might be able to find out more here if you are interested:

So after our fun day in Rotterdam, we headed over to the LON radio studio in Nieuwekirk aan den Ijssel, where we met up with Marco, Dennis, Erik, and the LON radio studio guys for a great evening session. We had an interview and did 6 songs live, as did our friend MC – it was great to hear him live in a non-crowded, non-smoky place - he’s really a wonderful entertainer. We have a recording of the radio show and we’ll try to post a song soon.

Wednesday we got Heather packed off to the States, much to our sadness – we love having our friends on the road with us. :) It keeps us sane, really. After our sad goodbye, we headed to pretty little Amersfoort, where we walked around and ate appeltaart until our show that night at Borra. We love Borra – great stage, great sound, and Willem and crew are always so nice. It was a good evening. The next day was our last show with our dear friend Eva, and I am SO excited about her new CD – it’s going to be incredible. She played a bunch of new songs during her set (that I already know) and I really think it’s going to kick ass. The venue, Café Paard von Troje, was really amazing – too bad it was practically empty, because the sound was good and the stage atmosphere was really special. C’est la vie, maybe we’ll have a crowd next time.

So now we’re back in Italy – got in a few days ago – and we’ve hit the ground running. We have a few shows this month but mostly we’re just going to be working on the new record – we have quite a bit to finish during the month of November, because the goal is to get it all off to the mastering guys by early December. Eek! Let’s hope we can get it done. There is a lot left to finish – the cello, the banjo, the harmony vocals, the percussion, plus all of the artwork… but I think we can do it (says the little engine that could).

So soon we’ll be posting teaser-tracks from the new CD and if you’ve pre-ordered, you’ll have a secret web link to listen to songs within the next month…. so please help us meet our goal! We’re 30% of the way there – not bad at all!!!
Here’s where you can find out about pre-ordering:

And here's a new video we just posted to YouTube of Alex playing the violin on one of the songs:

And that’s all for now! Thanks for listening!

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