Tell us about your tour vehicle.
I have a 2006 Subaru Legacy I call “Bluebaru”. It’s a great wagon on the road. I just took it in to the mechanic the other day ’cause one of the wheels was making a scratching sound. He asked if I’d fixed the brakes recently and I said, ‘yeah just two and half years ago’. And he said, ‘that’s not recent for NYC’. TRUE! This city can be hard on everything.
How do you eat cheaply and/or healthy while on tour?
Well, healthy doesn’t always equate cheap in the short term when you’re eating out, but I bring along fruit and nuts and basically try to avoid sugar, fried food and bread. But every once in a while I love a big plate of biscuits and sausage gravy.
How many strings do you break in a typical year? How much does it cost to replace them?
I tend to change my strings every 3-4 shows to avoid breaking them during a gig so I can really dig in. I also love the sound and the response of fresh strings.
Where do you rehearse?
Lately we’ve mostly been rehearsing at Alec Spiegelman’s shared studio space- The Chamber Of Commerce here in Brooklyn. I love it there. There’s no bathroom though, and only a window ac unit so there’s some inevitable dancing that goes on with those things:)
What was the title and a sample lyric from the first song that you wrote?
The first song I wrote was ‘Mind Over Matter’ when I was 15. It’s on my first album River Under The Road with Asleep At The Wheel. “Mind over matter, but don’t you think too much. Or you just might move a mountain with the magic of your touch. But you’re just a woman, what can you do? No you ain’t no man, you got that little wo in front of you.”
Describe your first gig.
I went to an alternative school that my parents founded and ran in Silver City, NM called The Down To Earth School. It was my mother’s life’s work. The first year there were 7 students. When I was 13 we started a school bluegrass band and I started playing mandolin. Our first real gig was at Pick-a-Mania. A great regional bluegrass music festival on Bill and Sue Bussmans’ Gopher Broke Garlic Farm in Hillsboro, NM. Our set included some traditional fiddle tunes and folk songs and songs by Bob Marley, Peter Rowan, and The Grateful Dead.
What was your last day job? What was your favorite day job?
My last job was doing renovation work and interior painting. From light carpentry, fix-it stuff from major renovation -drywall, new kitchen, tiling etc. My favorite day job was when I worked for Tom Ellis in Austin at Precision Pearl Inlay doing inlay for many of the great luthiers across the country. I loved those years of working with shells and silver with Tom and Melba.
How has your music-related income changed over the past 5-10 years? What do you expect it to look like 5-10 years from now?
My publishing has begun to earn in a real way. Independently from my work on the road. That is immensely satisfying especially considering that it’s something I have to pass on to my daughter. I wrote myself a check for a million dollars some years back and my pie in the sky is that I’ll get to cash that in the next 5-10 years! If you’re gonna dream….
What one thing do you know now that you had wished you knew when you started your career in music?
That’s a good question. It makes me immediately grateful for all of the really honest and helpful advice I got from my elders early on in my career. From Lucinda Williams and Iris DeMent especially. I think the big thing I’ve come to know now is that I can let myself be seen as beautiful on stage and still be taken seriously as a writer and an artist.