Monday, May 03, 2010

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,

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

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,

Monday, November 09, 2009

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.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

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,

Monday, April 27, 2009

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 or place your order directly by using paypal. your paypal payment (which can be done with your bank or credit card) should go to

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. :)


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

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.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

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:

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,

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

the postal service, larabars, country princess, all-night drives

eek! so much going on. many, many things.... all happening at once.

the new cd arrived to my house on jan 19. the tees came jan 20. i was leaving (did leave) for the european tour on jan 21. this meant that i was up until the wee-est hours of the morning, preparing pre-order packages. this is what that looked like, egads.

if you pre-ordered, you should have received your package by now... if you haven't, please email me right away!

the following day, very bleary-eyed, i hopped a plane. i wrote a blog about hopping planes and crossing oceans but now it seems like forever ago so i won't post it.

oh, one very exciting thing before i forget.
as some of you may know, i was diagnosed last year with a bizarre food allergy. as food allergies go, it could be worse (celiac would be very hard for me) but it's pretty freaking annoying. i'm allergic to balsam of peru (google it) and it's a food & fragrance thing. basically it means that when i'm on tour, it's a pain in the ass to eat food on-the-go because, um, about 89% of all things pre-packaged are no longer kosher for me to eat.

enter my snack saviors, the good folks at LARABAR. LARABARS are all-natural fruit and nut (and chocolate!) bars that have zero-added-anything, which is what i need (because i can't eat even natural additives like vanilla, lemon juice, cinnamon.... it's a real pain). basically I wrote them an email, explaining my food allergy and i told them how we were going to be tour this whole year, promoting the new album, and i asked if they would be interested in sponsoring me... and they did! so now i am armed with a truckload of LB's to keep my well-fed while i am on the road. you should check them out, they are amazing.

here's our tour car, sporting the only two stickers necessary to our lives:

and here i am, happily eating my LB's on the road....while manuel keeps his eyes on the road (and rightfully so):

and here i am again, happily refusing mcdonald's in favor of my larabar!

let's see, what else....
we have been on tour in italy about a week and the shows have been amazing. despite the frigid weather and the constant rain, we've had a really great turnout at all the shows, and our album has been "record of the week" on both Contraradio (Firenze) and Radio Onda d'Urto (Brescia), plus it was featured on Radio Sherwood of Padova AND it was featured on Radio RAI 3 (Italy's NPR). Not bad for one week!
Plus we played at some of our favorite venues, including Gruppo Tetris of Trieste, where I am happy to say they consider me folk royalty:

last night we drove home from milano at 2 am... as in we left milano at 2 am... and rolled into the driveway at 7:30 am. that was pretty nuts. but the show was amazing and so was manuel, who clearly has a career as a truck driver if music does not work out for us.

lastly, thanks to mr. olney over at heartache with hardwork, who gave us our first review... and it's a FANTASTIC ONE!!

okay, i gotta run.. 14 minutes until the next departure and i can't find my warm boots... and it's snowing outside... this is italy, folks?? mah.

xoxoxo and thanks for reading.

Monday, January 19, 2009

"Sweetheart" now available!

Hey everyone!
Our new record, "Sweetheart, Keep Your Chin Up," has arrived!
Until the website is back up and running, you can order the new album here:

Order "Sweetheart, Keep Your Chin Up" today!!

It's only $15, which includes shipping & handling.

The above link will take you to Paypal, which allows you to pay with a credit card OR with your bank.
The record will be on iTunes and CD Baby as well in the not-too-distant future.


Track Listing:
1. Good News
2. The War
3. The Next Big Bang
4. Austin, I Made a Mess
5. Drowning in Amsterdam
6. Medals
7. Keep Your Chin Up
8. The Grammar of a Sinking Ship
9. First Lesson
10. Coming to Meet Me
11. Saint Anthony
12. Just Down
13. A Million Little Rocks
14. Okay From Now On

Sunday, January 04, 2009

new song uploaded!

We've posted a track from our upcoming album, "Sweetheart, Keep Your Chin Up," on our MySpace page. Take a listen and let us know what you think!

The song is called "The War."

If you like what you hear, there's still time to pre-order the record!
You can do so here:

Happy New Year!

Monday, November 24, 2008

we just need 300 more pre-orders!

We are so close to reaching our goal!!
We just need 300 more pre-orders (at level one) and we'll be able to pay for the whole record UP FRONT, which would be amazing.....

We are about to start the mixing and the mastering, which is a huge expense (well over $2000 for the two combined) and then we have to print the album ($3000+) so we're not out of the danger zone yet. We've had an amazing response so far... and if we can just get these last few pre-orders, it would be wonderful.

So here's the information again about how to pre-order - if we can get 300 people to order at level one, we'll be SET.

EVERYONE who participates as a sponsor, will also have access to the "rough cuts" of songs as they progress. You will be given a super secret web address that will change from time to time where you can go listen and see how the album is coming along (a few songs have already been posted).

Here are the levels of sponsorship:

Good Witch - $15
A signed, personalized copy of Sweetheart magic-wanded to your door BEFORE the public release of the album...and you can sleep well tonight, knowing you've helped make this album possible. :)

Lightning Bug - $35
Two signed copies of Sweetheart sent lightning-fast to your doorstep, plus you'll get the newly designed Sweetheart button and sticker to fancy up your backpack, bumper, sports coat, cowboy boots - you name it.

St. Anthony - $50
Two signed copies of Sweetheart, buttons and stickers included, PLUS the brand-new VP/ICOM tee (designed for the album's release!) on which you can proudly pin your button or stick that sticker....

The Siren - $100
Four (4!) signed copies of Sweetheart sent to you, hot off the presses, plus the button, the sticker, two (2!) VP/ICOM tees, and best of all, you'll be listed in the liner notes as an artistic contributor to the album. Not everyday you can put that on the ol' resume.

Pegasus - $500+
You can swoop down and save us! You get everything that everyone else gets....the CDs, the accessories, the tees, the a private concert for you and your friends at your home. This offer applies to anyone in the USA or in Europe, and will have to be worked into Vanessa's tour schedule. The show would most likely be acoustic (due to band travel expenses) but if it can be worked out, then an acoustic duo or full-band show could be arranged.

Ready to order?
Simply do one of two things...
Click on the level of sponsorship above and you'll be taken to Paypal, where you can pay in the currency of your choice, using either your bank or your credit card. You can also send a check or money order - just send me an email to and I'll get you the mailing address!

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, DANK U WEL, DANKE SCHÖN!, MILLE GRAZIE. We can't make this record without you, and we sincerely appreciate your support.
With love and gratitude,


Be our Fan on Facebook!

additional info on the album:

"Sweetheart, Keep Your Chin Up" will be my fourth full-length album and third with the fabulous guys from Ice Cream on Mondays. What's it about? Well, it's about floating when you want to sink, and about trying to smile when you want to cry. It's about wicked witches, boys with stolen wings, towers that crash and burn, and praying to saints to find the things we've lost. It's about playing music to closed doors, about war, the sea, coming to terms with the past, and about sirens that fall hopelessly in love with sailors that are just passing through.

We're working again with Salim Nourallah, who produced Little Films and Blackout, and aside from me and the ICOM guys, this record will feature voices and instruments from all over the world – our friend Alex Akela (from the Netherlands) is going to play violin on some tracks, and some of my friends from Italy, Norway, Denmark, Holland, England, and the US will add their vocals for a few songs. It's going to be lovely!

We hope to finish the album by the end of the year and we are shooting for a public release date of March 2009. By pre-ordering, you'll have the album in-hand by the end of January and you will have helped us tremendously. THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

Monday, November 10, 2008

winding down this very strange year...

it's cold outside, and way too dark for 5 pm.
i never really minded daylight savings time until i moved farther north...and now it's really just too dark, too soon. it's been foggy lately so when i wake up, it's gray and blurry, and it lasts until 1 or 2 pm... and by 5 pm it's dark again. it's enough to make you make a sad record. oh wait...

i've been at home a bit lately, working on the new record, planning tours, planning the artwork, planning all the planning that goes into it all. i try not to read the paper too much - all this talk of the financial crisis makes me worried that people will stop buying music. yes, i know there are a lot more pertinent things to worry about, but people not buying music is equivalent to me losing my job... so i hope things turn around sooner rather than later.

the album is coming along really well. for those of you that pre-ordered, we posted an unmixed version of "st anthony." thanks to all of you who wrote us and told us you liked it. :) we'll post something else again soon. manuel has been hard at work in his underground studio, playing twangy instruments like the dobro and the banjo. i sang a few harmony vocals and now we're just waiting on the cello to come rolling in and we'll pretty much be ready to hand it over to salim and rip for the mixing.

this week we're headed to places we've never been for shows we've never played - in rimini, trani, and teramo. i hope it's a little sunnier (and warmer) on the coast and down south! it's cold here in the valley. but at least it's olive picking time and that means.... olio nuovo! there are few things yummier on this planet than garlic-rubbed bruschetta, drizzled with new olive oil and dusted with sea salt. my mouth is watering...

we're hoping next year to tour everywhere - the usa, europe, and maybe even canada this time. again, i guess a lot of it will depend on gas prices, and on whether or not venues can afford to pay us, and if people can afford to pay cover to come see us. i guess i started this music thing about five years too late. we'll see if we can weather the storm. if not it'll just make for more good sad songs. :)

i'm off to cuddle up next to the fireplace with a book. i feel like i've earned it.
love to you all and to all a good night,

Monday, October 27, 2008

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!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

pre-order SWEETHEART and help us make our album!

The new record is underway!!

"Sweetheart, Keep Your Chin Up" will be my fourth full-length album and third with the fabulous guys from Ice Cream on Mondays. What's it about? Well, it's about floating when you want to sink, and about trying to smile when you want to cry. It's about wicked witches, boys with stolen wings, towers that crash and burn, and praying to saints to find the things we've lost. It's about playing music to closed doors, about war, the sea, coming to terms with the past, and about sirens that fall hopelessly in love with sailors that are just passing through.

We're working again with Salim Nourallah, who produced Little Films and Blackout, and aside from me and the ICOM guys, this record will feature voices and instruments from all over the world – our friend Alex Akela (from the Netherlands) is going to play violin on some tracks, and some of my friends from Italy, Norway, Denmark, Holland, England, and the US will add their vocals for a few songs. It's going to be lovely!

We hope to finish the album by the end of the year and we are shooting for a public release date of March 2009. I am writing to ask an enormous favor, because we can't make this record without YOU. Our catch-22 is this: we sell records when we tour. If we don't tour, we sell many fewer records...but with the price of gasoline constantly on the rise, we barely make ends meet while we're on the road.

Which brings us to this - making an album and making it well is not cheap. To put it in perspective, we've been touring constantly since we released “Little Films,” and we've sold over 1000 copies. We are projected to finally break even this fall…two years after the record's release. You do the math at $15/cd.

What we would really love is kind of crazy…but here it is. We are looking for someone to fully sponsor the studio costs of the album, and thereby be credited as the executive producer of the album. A cap of $5,000 will be set on the production costs before we go into the studio.

But since it might be hard to find our dream sponsor, we are asking for something just as helpful – PRE-ORDERS! If everyone on our mailing list pre-ordered just ONE copy at the lowest level, we'd be able to pay all of our studio costs UP FRONT. That would be incredible.

EVERYONE who participates as a sponsor, will also have access to the "rough cuts" of songs as they progress. You will be given a super secret web address that will change from time to time where you can go listen and see how the album is coming along.

Here are the levels of sponsorship:

Good Witch - $15
A signed, personalized copy of Sweetheart magic-wanded to your door BEFORE the public release of the album...and you can sleep well tonight, knowing you've helped make this album possible. :)

Lightning Bug - $35
Two signed copies of Sweetheart sent lightning-fast to your doorstep, plus you'll get the newly designed Sweetheart button and sticker to fancy up your backpack, bumper, sports coat, cowboy boots - you name it.

St. Anthony - $50
Two signed copies of Sweetheart, buttons and stickers included, PLUS the brand-new VP/ICOM tee (designed for the album's release!) on which you can proudly pin your button or stick that sticker....

The Siren - $100
Four (4!) signed copies of Sweetheart sent to you, hot off the presses, plus the button, the sticker, two (2!) VP/ICOM tees, and best of all, you'll be listed in the liner notes as an artistic contributor to the album. Not everyday you can put that on the ol' resume.

Pegasus - $500+
You can swoop down and save us! You get everything that everyone else gets....the CDs, the accessories, the tees, the a private concert for you and your friends at your home. This offer applies to anyone in the USA or in Europe, and will have to be worked into Vanessa's tour schedule. The show would most likely be acoustic (due to band travel expenses) but if it can be worked out, then an acoustic duo or full-band show could be arranged.

Ready to order?
Simply do one of two things...
Click on the level of sponsorship above and you'll be taken to Paypal, where you can pay in the currency of your choice, using either your bank or your credit card. You can also send a check or money order - just send me an email to and I'll get you the mailing address!

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, DANK U WEL, DANKE SCHÖN!, MILLE GRAZIE. We can't make this record without you, and we sincerely appreciate your support.
With love and gratitude,


Be our Fan on Facebook!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

time for an update?

Jan 1, 2008 - May 1, 2008 - 55 shows in 4 countries
Aug 1, 2007 - May 1, 2008 - 110 shows in 8 countries

I've been very busy.

I've been meaning to write a blog for months now. It's not that no interesting things have happened - quite the contrary. But in the last 9 months, I've been in England, Ireland, America, Holland, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, Italy, America, Italy, Norway, Italy, America, Italy, Holland, and Italy again (in that order) and I am just worn out.

I have come to love airports in some sick way - they feel kind of like home. I know airports very well. Some of them (Schipol) I love dearly. Some of them (Charles de Gaulle) should never have been built. Some of them (Heathrow), I'm terrified of having to visit one day. Some airlines - Continental and KLM and British - have earned my undying affection. Some - RyanAir - have earned something very close to contempt.

I have come to like wandering around airport in a half-dazed, sleep-craving state. I kind of like setting up my computer and catching up on my expense reports while watching families struggle by with three kids and a trolley. It's kind of like having an office with a window on the world. I like to guess the stories behind the rumpled clothes, the bleary eyes, the 14 suitcases piled one on top of the other.

But I am getting off topic. I think I haven't blogged much in this last year because I was fortunate enough to not be touring solo so much. My friend Katie was an absolute gem and she accompanied me on what would have otherwise been a very soggy and solitary tour of the UK and Ireland in August. And from September on, I had Manuel with me for most of the tours. We were joined by Alex later. Then in Denmark (which I did write about), I had MC. In Norway, I had Terje. So I found that blogging suddenly became less necessary when I was in the company of others. I guess that when you are with someone else, you already have someone to laugh/cry/wonder about things with. When you are traveling solo, the blog becomes your travel companion, the person with whom you share all your crazy/funny/scary stories.

I'm little sad that I don't have a record of this last year. 110 shows in 9 months is a lot when you consider that I have a full-time job as well. I am actually a little surprised they still want me. But maybe one lazy day this summer I can sit down and try to reconstruct the twists and turns between Dublin and Amsterdam and Dallas and Oslo and Castiglion Fiorentino.

One thing that will be happening on these lazy summer days - songwriting! Because I'm in the process of finishing up the songs for our next album. Don't ask me what it will be called, because I haven't the foggiest. I keep turning things over in my mouth but nothing tastes right yet. I will say that I am very happy so far with how the songs are progressing, and especially with how the arrangements are coming.

We will be back in the States in September to start work on the record with Salim. I'm so glad that we'll be working with him again. I love everything that we did on Little Films with him, and I can't wait to start a new project.

So I guess that's all for now. As we record some rough demos this summer, I'll post a few tracks for you all to sample. In the meanwhile, I'm taking myself a mini-vacation (showing my mom around Italy for the next two weeks!) and then I promise I'll get right back to running all over the world again.

Thanks for listening to our songs. We love you.
a presto!