from the inside out...

Next to You  Podcast

Okay, so I'm behind the eight ball on this one. I'm late, but you know, sometimes its just really hard to catch your breath. And this week has been exactly that, so I really hope that you're all still with me at this point in the album. This is track 6, so we're only just over halfway through the stories behind these songs, but this one is special. Its a long one, so stick with me, cause the song is not much without the story. 

This is a song ultimately about a single day in New York City that I spent with my advisor from my grad school program, Diane, and this incredible adventure we shared. So in my grad program, we had to try to have a face to face meeting with our advisors at least once a semester, which was perfect because Diane lives not far outside NYC, and so we planned that I would come to her house and we'd have a composition lesson first thing in the morning, and then find some cool things to do for the rest of the day. There happened to be a concert happening in Central Park that day called "Jazz and Colors" and it consisted of a ton of bands playing the same exact set list. So you'd walk up to a three piece trio playing "So What" and walk farther to stumble upon a 12 piece Latin Band playing the same thing. It was this really incredible experience. We were there for about an hour and a half and only heard six of the bands. The colors in Central Park that day were breathtaking, and I'll include them with this post. ( My first memories of Central Park as a child was the Simon and Garfunkel concert I watched on PBS in the mid 80s. I just knew it had this energy that I couldn't explain. The kodachrome reference in this song is a nod to that.) 

Diane and I left Central Park and went to a student recital at the New School in the afternoon (which was also amazing), and then grabbed lunch around the corner at French Roast. We shared a conversation in which she shared her life and heart with me, about music, love, life, health, sickness, and hope. I drank my weight in coffee (it was still regular back in late 2013, btw) as she talked and I just remember the gratefulness she expressed for so many things in her life, and wanted to make a point to not forget that, or how much her influence shaped me, both musically, and personally. That's what the third verse in this song is about. Its about Diane. Her fire for life and for making music and helping those around her grow to be better versions of themselves. Her influence has made me want to be a better teacher, friend, listener, compassionate human, and so much more. 

But the day didn't end there. If you've ever heard me talk about my favorite artist before, then you've definitely heard this story too. Sandra McCracken just happened to be playing that weekend in New York. At this little bistro called Milk and Roses in Brooklyn. She is based out of Nashville and rarely comes to the east coast. I mean, rarely. So I got THE LAST TWO TICKETS for her show and Diane and I started the trek over the Williamsburg Bridge to find our spot. We walk in and I got a table about three feet away from the piano, and there are candles lit everywhere and a small crowd starting to show. Diane and I are chatting but I was so excited for the concert to start. Sandra does a sound check and walks past me and says "Hello, thanks for coming. Gosh, you look familiar." I go on to tell her we had met before and I was a huge fan and was thrilled to see her in concert again. She politely excuses herself to get ready for the show and says she looks forward to chatting more after. The concert starts. I know every word to every song. I want to sing along the way I do in my car, but its a small venue and don't want to upset the people around me. So the show ends and we chat. I show her the picture of her and I that was taken in the year 2000 that I keep on my dream board and she remembers that night. We talk for a long time and I tell her that I had this dream (literally, my dreams are vivid, but I think I mentioned that in a previous post) that she and I sang together. (Actually, I had that dream two weeks before this day in NYC, before I even knew that she was performing in NYC, and its documented on my fb page, in case you're a doubting Thomas). So she says she needs to speak to someone else, but she'd be back in five minutes, and she'd get her guitar, and we would sing together. ARE YOU SERIOUS?! Yup. So I tell Diane and she freaks out with me. It was up to me to pick a song for us to sing, and though I knew EVERY WORD of all of her songs before this, my nerves made me forget what my name was. So I pulled out my phone and googled her songs. Yup, I did. She didn't perform a song called "Sweet Amelia" off her new record during her set that night, and it had great harmonies,  so that's the one we sang. Together. Diane was gracious enough to record it, and I'll cherish that video probably for forever. I remember that day so fondly, just a whirlwind of emotion, and music, and friendship. It took me almost four years to write a song about that day. I tried draft after draft of lyrics, and nothing felt right. I needed a way to weave it all together, and I just kept remembering the saying that New York is the city that never sleeps. I know lots of people don't love the busyness of a city, but I find the energy invigorating. I just thought New York City and I got along quite fine together, and maybe it just needed be to be there for it to take a breath. I am not lying when I say that day was magical, and I know that I had the hardest time sleeping that night, and for a few following. "And they say you don't sleep, but I'm not sure that's true, cause maybe its you wait to sleep until I'm next to you." Its less an ego thing, thinking I'm the answer to New York's insomnia, but more a completion thing. Like maybe it can't sleep because it has more magic to give. To me, to you. To someone who hasn't gone looking for it yet, and it doesn't want to miss a chance to provide it. But that it can rest for a moment, because I was given the magic. I don't know, maybe that's letting you too far into the dark recesses of my brain...

So, if you've made it this far, thank you for staying with me! I know this song has a different vibe than a lot of songs on this project, but if this day hadn't happened, I probably wouldn't have this record out at all, so it was a very powerful force in my story and was a story I needed to tell. I wanted to demarcate that day for myself, to remind myself again that miracles happen, dreams can come true, that real friendship exists, and that magic is out there waiting to be found. So, go. Find some magic. Today. Tomorrow. Be magic. And remember that I find myself immensely grateful to take part in the magic and mystery that is music. 

Until next time,


  1. Next to You

Coffee in Paris...  Podcast

I've never been to Paris. And if you've ever been to one of my shows, you already know that. I've never been there, but I miss it. Like somehow my soul belongs there, and I can't explain it. (That's what the song "Runaway" was about from my second album "Morning Light"...go download it if you haven't heard that yet!). I suppose there's something really ethereal in my vision of Paris. Its of course timeless in the way its survived war and rulers and all of that, but everything you read about Paris suggests that there's a spirit of life underneath it all that keeps it running. Constantly pushing forward. And I suppose its that drive to create and breathe life that makes me love it without ever seeing it.  I will get to Paris someday. I'm hoping before I turn 40, honestly, because there really are some vivid images that I can see and taste, and I just want to experience them. 
Okay, yes, the song, I promise I'm getting there. So with all that about Paris being said, I also have vivid dreams. And when I say vivid, I mean, I often have a hard time discerning the dream from reality. There are only about two other dreams I've had in my life, maybe three, that have been as sharp as my dreams of Paris. 
This song is about one of those dreams. Its hard to deliver the experience of a dream well, and writing this song was no different. And if you know me at all, you know I second guess everything I do (as most artists and creators tend to do, am I right?). This song, though, just felt right. I wanted to use a line in repetition that could mean something different each time. "Its the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God." I just sort of took that and ran. This song is a story, about a dream, about a place, about frosted lights, and my frozen breath, about a hotel, and a courtyard, and a fountain, and the cold, crisp air, and yes, about drinking coffee. A bowl of coffee (does it ruin the story if I mention it's decaf for me?), in a cafe, in a place that has called to me as long as I can remember. So, join me in Paris, at least for a minute or two, and find yourself. As Sabrina Fairchild said, "Oh, but Paris isn't for changing planes, it''s for changing your outlook...." And then this, "Gertrude Stine said America is my country and Paris is my hometown, I'll always feel that way about Paris I want so much for you to know what it's meant to me. I cross the street someone is playing La Vie En Rose. They do it for the tourists but I'm always suprised at how it moves me. It means seeing life through rose colored glasses. Only in Paris where the light is pink does that song make sense, but I'll have it in my pocket when I get home, and carry it with me where ever I go..."

So, until next time, I'll be in Paris, with coffee. 


  1. Coffee in Paris


There's a simplicity to this tune that really makes my heart happy. Humming is track 4 on Water Meets the Shore, and is for sure one of my favorites due to its simplicity. The guitar part is busy but never in the way. Its that gentle lull of a heartbeat, like the opening line, "My heart is humming and it won't slow down..." Politically, our nation is divided. I think that is more true today than a year or so ago when I wrote this tune. This is a song about me trying to explain the world to my (then seven year old) without sugar coating it, but feeling completely incompetent. There are so many situations that we try to shield from our kids. I absolutely believe so many times its for their own good, but every now and then I think we owe them the whole truth. And when it comes to what is happening in our country, I think we owe our kids that much. So this song is me fighting the inner battle of wanting to do something to help, and not knowing how or when, but trusting that words will come. And more specifically, the right words. Perhaps you feel the same as I do, and just don't know where to start. All I know is, "start it small..." because one step after another eventually leads to a lifetime of steps. 


My heart is humming and it won't slow down
The constant running I just can't get out
To change the world it only takes one day
But I am fickle and can't find my way, find my way.


The world is racing all around the sun
Like its pacing just to say its won
And somehow its that I can't keep up
But no matter I'll just fill my cup, fill my cup.


And one day I'll be enough more than words can say
Rushing in to break the sound, like water has its way.


A gentle tugging from my young, young boy
Here to tell me not to be so coy.
And when its hard to look him in the eye
I promised him I wouldn't tell a lie, tell a lie. 


And one day I'll be enough more than words can say 
Rushing in to break the sound, like water has its way.


Start it small the days grow long and days turn into years. 
Push aside the disconnect, the days outnumber fears. 


And one day I'll be enough more than words can say  
Rushing in to break the sound, like water has its way.

Side by Side 

So, Track 3 Side by Side, ultimately is a song about remembering. I know on my best days, I remember the constant to do list that is always in front of me. However, those are absolutely NOT the things that I remember when I get to the end of my life. I want to remember the real things, the important things, the treasured moments. So, this song is about things in the last year or so that I wanted to mark down. In order, I want to remember the look of my family's eyelashes when they are swimming and their eyes are glistening. I think its important to remember what someone takes in their coffee. (Coffee is very important to our family...maybe I'll write a blog post about just that as an addendum to the fact that I talk about coffee three times on this record.)

I haven't traveled the world, yet anyway, but I have seen so many beautiful places in the United States, and I remember the glimmer of the water in the Delaware Gap, and the peaks of the mountains on the coast in Bar Harbor, and the glorious shore in Miami. I am fortunate enough to live where there are lakes on the other side of every hill, and the sunlight floods in my windows in the afternoon light, and the crickets chirp at night and fireflies glow in our backyard. I want to remember those things. 

I want to remember what it feels like to be in love. I mean, full on, I'll do anything to prove my love for you kind of love. Its not slight or easy or empty in any way, but requires every ounce of who we are to bring it to life, and man, that sort of love is so incredibly worthwhile. To hold someone's hand while they sleep and to be held in return. I want to remember that because that is worth remembering.

And the moon. I feel like I talk to the moon. Maybe that makes me so incredibly odd, but I suspect, that I am not alone in this. The moon's light comes as a welcome friend, and I have had the pleasure of seeing the moon rise and set in some of the most gorgeous places. The moon often lights our way home on late evening boat rides returning from dinner in the summer. And the moon to me somehow always offers company, so even at night, I don't feel alone. Somehow. I don't pretend to understand the way at which I view the world, however, I know that this song in particular, is about remembering the littlest things. You'll often see me use the hashtag #thisisjoy, and this is exactly why. Those posts are me doing my very best to remember the smallest moments that seem to pass by so quickly. I want to remember it all, especially as a mother. I want to squeeze every ounce of life out of each moment, and express gratitude for that tiny moment didn't go by unnoticed.  I want to notice. I want to remember. And so perhaps this song will help you mark down the things that mean the most to you...and help you remember too. 

My Biggest Fear 

So perhaps from the title, you might expect this to be a song that is sad or slow and all emotional. I really tried NOT to do that. However, I think in a human experience we all really are afraid of so many things, and this is a song about all of those things. Dying, not knowing what to say, or how to say what you need to say, being forgotten, being ignored, being vulnerable, being weak, being strong, and everything in between. The verses all start off the same way..."On the days when..." fill in the blanks. I know I have days when I've forgotten how to breathe and have to remind myself how to. I have days when I feel like I could conquer the world, but don't know where to start. And then I have days where I am reminded just how darn human I am, and can't seem to find my keys, let alone fulfill my dream of being an artist and creator and singer and good mom, and good wife, and all of that. I think this is the most human song I've written to date and perhaps the most relatable. 

On that note, this song shows up on this record twice.  Once (track 2)  as how my bass player, engineer, producer, friend, and colleague, Geoff Smith, and I might play it live...super simple, and how I heard it when I first wrote it. Geoff listened to every crazy idea I had about this song, and I really can't thank him enough for that. He spent so much time on this track alone and tried everything I asked him to. I owe him a lifetime supply of dark chocolate and scotch for that alone. 

 And once (track 12)  in the vein of Brian Wilson (hence California Remix edition) fully realized by my friend, colleague, and songwriting mentor and cheerleader, Ravi Krishnaswami. I met Ravi during my time at VCFA (my grad program) and have always admired his endless supply of creativity and killer guitar skills and was honored to have him add all the things that Brian Wilson might have asked for on this tune. 




As an artist, there's this beautiful moment when the creation of a new piece emerges. It's life-giving and soul satisfying. You step back from your work and breathe out knowing that you took something from the abstract world and made it an artifact in this world. However, as an artist, there is also in that moment, a bit of panic knowing that perhaps someone else might see or hear your art and have something to say about it that's different than what's in your head. If you've ever experienced this, then you and I are friends automatically. Very often, I think songs are like my children in a way. I love them and spend time nurturing them, and hoping that when I turn my head they don't turn into something else. The moment of release of a new record is terrifyingly beautiful. And so I hope you spend time with these songs, and try to become part of the story. 

This new record is a set of songs that are all a story in one way or another and I'll share the back story of each of these songs with you, which is something, I haven't done before with my previous records. But these songs are important enough to me to give them some stand alone attention and I hope you love them. So as I send these songs into the world, know that I hope they find you where you are and bring you to a place you haven't been before just yet, and I hope you walk away seeing the world just slightly differently. 

Title Track: Water Meets the Shore

Many of you already know I was born in a small town in Upstate New York in the Finger Lakes Region, and more specifically, Penn Yan where Keuka Lake is our pride and joy. Keuka Lake is the one lake in the Finger Lakes shaped like a Y, and thus offers a bit more privacy than some of the other lakes. For the most part, its quiet, stunningly beautiful, and a magnet for me in so many ways. This song is really a love song written for Keuka, and one of my favorite lines from it is this: "Your beauty will swallow any fork in the road, and in any direction, You will always be home. Cause I've been running since the day that I was born; caught up in the dream; Not far beyond the reach of where the water meets the shore and calls to me...yes, it calls to me." 

So from my little corner in this world to yours, I hope today brings you beauty in the unexpected. 

Until next time,