Apart from a hellish, sleepless flight to Frankfurt in a plane full of screaming babies we arrived in Germany fairly unscathed and spent a Lost In Translation 24 hours at our hotel near the airport. We met up with our tour manager, Rebecca Kemp, the next morning and headed off to Cologne, city of the beautiful cathedral and the first show of the tour. We had a video shoot for German TV before the show; a little unnerving as we were just getting our sea legs. Our first German audience, a nice size crowd, gathered just before doors opened as we were wrapping up the video. As it turns out, the audience was not entirely German – Roy from Newcastle came over for the show, bearing 2 bottles of Newcastle Brown. Bringing beer to Germany is a little like bringing coals to Newcastle, but it is good stuff. We also met up with Thomas, who told us he drove 5 hours to the gig but we don’t know from where. Thomas, if you’re out there, thank you!

just in case there was no good beer in Germany?

After a night off in Berlin the next four days were a blur. The second show of the tour was at Berlin’s Crystal Club, where we were graced with a nice crowd and this lovely review. On to the indescribable Blues Garage (venue) & Motel California (accommodations). The audience at the Blues Garage was great, a bit larger than the night before – and the Motel California was a crazy quilt of Americana, blues, rock and western memorabilia, all lovingly curated by our host and promoter, Henry. We had a Wurlitzer organ in our room. Here’s the proof: MotelCalifornia

Show #4 was in Duisburg at a cozy venue called Cafe Steinbruch. We tried out a little of our newly learned German (“Frühstück zu Hause”) on the crowd who very kindly indulged us and promptly switched back to English! Then it was on to Koblenz, and Cafe Hahn. We were greeted at soundcheck with tea & homemade cheesecake, a baby grand piano and gorgeous sound courtesy of Jörg. Along with gorgeous accommodations (a heated slate floor in the bathroom? Bathrobe and slippers? Are we on tour or at a spa?). All of this would have been enough to make us happy but an audience of 150 and two encores made Cafe Hahn the best show of the tour so far.
A week into the trip we drove across the border into the Netherlands for our first of 5 Dutch shows at the famous Paradiso in Amsterdam. Our old friend John Lester, who is about to move from Amsterdam to New York City, graced us with his bass playing…. I’ve long wanted to play the Paradiso and it did not disappoint. After our Amsterdam show we flew through the remaining 4 Dutch shows in Den Haag, Bakkeveen, Lage Vuursche and Venlo. The gig in Bakkeveen was especially memorable – a beautiful venue, great crowd and a boxer dog, Pips, with whom I fell immediately and deeply in love.

a pensive Pips

Our show at In The Woods in Lage Vuursche was packed with people and we were so happy to see so many familiar faces on our third visit there. Bart & crew are always so good to us and we look forward to the great company at dinner almost as much as the show. The Venlo show was at Perron55, where they have an outstanding crew who took such good care of us. We had a few more fans from far-flung places (Julian from the UK) and some friends from Twitter (hello Ruud!) who tweeted the gig as it happened.
We drove back to Cologne that night for a few hours sleep before flying to Munich the next morning. It was originally scheduled as a day off but we were offered the chance to play live on BR2, Germany’s national public radio, on a show called Nachtmix, which is hosted by Karl Bruckmaier, a veritable encyclopedia of music and a lovely guy as well. With the studio lights turned down low, and a small audience of 15 or so, it was like playing a little speakeasy or a jazz club. Easy to forget the huge audience out there in Radioland. Regrettably we didn’t see much of Munich, but we’ll save it for next time. We did get to sample some local beer though – Wow!

with Karl Bruckmaier from Radio BR2 "Nachtmix"

The last four German shows were a blur – some of the longest drives were at the end of the tour so much of it was spent in the van, driven by the ever-capable (and cheerful!) Rebecca. In Kassel we had a sold-out crowd (yes, sold out!) and a grand piano – two things that make us very happy. We also met up with singer-songwriter Markus Rill, another Twitter friend. The show in Erfurt the next night was a bit strange, with audience members sitting around the perimeter of the room but dead space directly in front of us. Bad Feng Shui, people! Then it was on to Dresden – a long haul but we arrived in time to wander around the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen and marvel at the post WWII restoration of Dresden’s historic buildings. The audience that night at Tante Ju was warm and very vocal, and we felt right at home but wish we could have stayed to see more of the city.

if you need your accordion repaired, Germany is the right place to be

We finished up the tour in Hamburg at the Downtown Bluesclub. I can’t say enough about Uwe, our host and promoter. All gigs should be like this one. We were treated so well; first a long, leisurely soundcheck, then a lovely dinner (amazing schnitzel!) with Uwe, the crew, our record label head Michael Golla, our booking agent and the TV crew who were there filming the show. The club was packed and the audience showed us the love. Afterwards, Uwe brought the champagne and we celebrated the end of a successful tour – 15 shows in 16 days. Next time (yes, there will definitely be a next time) we will build in more days off so as to see more sights and get more rest. We’re not spring chickens, you know.
Much gratitude to the awesome Rebecca Kemp for keeping us between the lines and never losing her cool, to Michael Golla for an incredible job on tour promotion, and to Nigel Morton at Moneypenny Agency, Joanna Serraris at Musemix, & ASS Concert & Promotion for booking the shows. Heartfelt thanks to all the lovely people who came out to see us, in some cases showing up at the venue hours early for autographs and/or driving hundreds of kilometers to get there. We are so grateful. And finally, love and admiration to Barry Walsh. Every night we get to make music together is an adventure, a journey and a gift.

soundcheck at 't Paard

If you are coming to a show on our 2011 tour of Germany & Holland, here’s what you’ll hear before the show:

Shenandoah    Bill Frisell    The Best of Bill Frisell, Volume 1: Folk Songs
I Feel a Change Comin’ On    Bob Dylan    Together Through Life
The Luxury of Knowing    Lori McKenna    Lorraine
Making Memories Of Us    The Notorious Cherry Bombs    The Notorious Cherry Bombs
Rainy Night In Georgia    Hem    No Word from Tom
They Were Wrong    Matthew Ryan    The Silver State
You And Tequila        Matraca Berg    The Dreaming Fields
The Ballad Of El Goodo    Big Star    #1 Record – Radio City
Blues Dream        Bill Frisell    Blues Dream
Silver And Glass        Matraca Berg    The Dreaming Fields
I Know Love Is All I Need    Rodney Crowell    The Houston Kid
Box Of Rain        Grateful Dead    American Beauty

“And it’s sure been a cold, cold winter
And the wind ain’t been blowin’ from the south”

-Mick Jagger/Keith Richards “Winter”

my first Hatch Print!

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Greetings from Nashville, where we’ve had the coldest, snowiest winter in recent memory. The snow has been beautiful (we’re not used to it here); the cold has been tolerable (if you have enough tea and a warm fireplace). But everyone, everywhere is ready for spring. Here’s the latest news about how mine is shaping up. In between all of the following events, I’m planning on beginning recording for a new album. More about that in a later newsletter. I hope spring finds you soon, wherever you are.

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Circus Girl Hatch Show Print
I’m so excited about having my first Hatch Show Print. Hatch is a legendary print shop based right here in downtown Nashville. They’ve been producing iconic concert posters for over a century. You’ve probably seen their posters of Hank Williams, Johnny Cash and other luminaries. The Circus Girl/World Tour poster is a very limited run poster (there will be a small quantity for sale on the upcoming Dutch/German tour) of 100, and is available online at my website (click on Books & Posters). If you would like yours signed, just make a note of it when you place your order.

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Coupla girls, sittin around singin’
I’m proud to be hosting a benefit for Planned Parenthood of Middle Tennessee for the third year in a row. In the past, my guests have included Janis Ian and Marshall Chapman.

special guest this year is Matraca Berg

This year my special guest will be my Wine, Women & Song GF Matraca Berg. We’ll be at the Rutledge in Nashville on March 3rd with songs, stories, laughs and possibly some special guests. I’ve been listening to Matraca’s new album nonstop, and you’re in for a treat.

Don’t miss this very special, very intimate evening and the chance to hear these songs, new and old, up close. A VIP ticket gets you priority seating and a meet & greet with the artists before the show. All ticket information is at my website.

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Circus Girl debuts in Germany

Circus Girl: The Best Of Gretchen Peters has made its debut in Germany, and is garnering good reviews and airplay. Here’s one review (better brush up on your German). Danke!  Barry Walsh and I will be doing a special live performance on BR2 in Munich – the show will be broadcast live on Monday, 21 March between 1100 and 1200pm. Circus Girl has also been chosen as an upcoming “CD of the week” on radio station SR3.

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Wine, Women & Song DVD
Wine, Women & Song (Matraca Berg, Suzy Bogguss & I) will be taping a private show for an upcoming live concert DVD later this month, and we’ve been rehearsing, working up new songs, writing and generally hanging out a lot.

a recent Wine, Women & Song rehearsal on a cold February day

We’re excited to be able to bring this show to folks who may not have been able to see it before now. In January we gave away 30 tickets to this invitation-only show on the WW&S Facebook page. It should be a fun night and we’ll keep you posted on the release date for the DVD.

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European Tour 2011
The spring tour of Germany and Holland is approaching fast – dates are listed here; check the tour page at my website for details.

10 March – Cologne, Germany
12 March – Berlin, Germany
13 March – Hannover, Germany
14 March – Duisburg, Germany
15 March – Koblenz, Germany
16 March – Amsterdam, Netherlands
17 March – Den Haag, Netherlands
18 March – Bakkeveen, Netherlands
19 March – Lage Vuursche, Netherlands
20 March – Venlo, Netherlands
21 March – live performance on Radio BR2
22 March – Kassel, Germany
23 March – Erfurt, Germany
24 March – Dresden, Germany
25 March – Hamburg, Germany

our first German tour

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Do you Tweet, Friend, Like or Ping?
Just a reminder: if the caption above makes sense to you, you can follow me at the links below:

Gretchen on Twitter– ephemeral tweets about anything and everything
Gretchen on Facebook– updates and interesting tidbits
Gretchen on Ping (iTunes)- a song or track every Monday that might be the best thing you’ve never heard
Wine, Women & Song on Facebook– updates & carryings-on of Wine, Women & Song, aka Suzy Bogguss, Matraca Berg and myself

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Download of the Month
I thought I’d throw in a WW&S download this month in honor of our upcoming DVD shoot – the song is “You Don’t Even Know Who I Am”, and judging from the pre-song conversation, some people still don’t!

The track was recorded at Eddie’s Attic in February 2010, by the wonderful Shalom Aberle. Visit the Download page to get February’s free download.

x Gretchen

What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.

-T.S. Eliot

writing

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Happy New Year!

I love new beginnings, but it helps me to frame them as T.S. Eliot does – as part of a continuum; the snake biting its tail. Blank pieces of paper and clean slates are a little intimidating. In the end, all there is to do is to begin. The end is the beginning. I’m almost at the end of writing songs for a new album. I have, as always, a foggy idea what it should sound like, but a lot of things will happen along the way to change that. Everyone involved will leave his or her mark, and it will (I hope) be a beautifully imperfect reality as opposed to an impossibly perfect idea. Most of all, I’m looking forward to being in the studio again – it energizes me being around great musicians.

I’ve got a lot of other irons in the fire for this year, too, but I’m making this newsletter brief so we can all get back to our New Year’s resolutions. Mine is to get this album done – wish me luck!

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30A Songwriters Festival

We just wrapped up an amazing weekend at the 30A Songwriters Festival, which boasted a stellar lineup this year: Rodney Crowell, Dar Williams, Emily Saliers, Vienna Teng, Mary Gauthier, Lucy Wainwright Roche, Shawn Mullins, Madison Violet and many, many more. Highlights for me were last night’s set with Emily Saliers, Mary Gauthier and Jennifer Knapp, catching Rodney Crowell’s riveting set just before my in-the-round set with two of my favorite guys, David Olney and Tommy Womack, and Barry’s and my solo turn at the Seaside Rep, a pretty little black box theater in the heart of Seaside. Make plans next year to spend MLK weekend at this event; mark my words, it’s going to get HUGE.

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Planned Parenthood benefit

special guest this year is Matraca Berg

For the third year in a row, I’m proud to be hosting a benefit for Planned Parenthood of Middle Tennessee. Past guests have included Janis Ian and Marshall Chapman. This year I know tickets are going to sell out very quickly because my special guest will be my Wine, Women & Song GF Matraca Berg. We’ll be at the Rutledge in Nashville on March 3rd, swapping songs, stories and some laughs. Matraca’s new album is coming out this spring and it’s a beauty. Don’t miss this very special, very intimate evening and the chance to hear these songs, new and old, up close. A VIP ticket gets you priority seating and a meet & greet with the artists before the show. All ticket information is at my website.

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Wine, Women & Song LIVE DVD taping!

And speaking of Wine, Women & Song – Suzy, Matraca and I will be taping our first DVD on February 24 in fabulous downtown Leipers Fork, TN, home of Green’s Grocery, where we first sang together 11 years ago. We will be giving away a very small number of seats to this invitation-only event, and you can get in on it by going to our Facebook page and following the instructions there. These seats are non-transferable and can’t be sold, so please participate only if you are able to attend. Watch our Facebook updates for more.

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Janis, Craig, Tony & Gretchen

Due to the popularity of the semi-regular “in the round” shows with Janis Ian, Craig Carothers, Tony Arata and myself, we’re embarking on our first world tour! OK, maybe it’s just Decatur, GA & Nashville, TN, but it’s a start. We’ll be at Eddie’s Attic for 2 nights September 1 & 2, finishing our little mini-tour with a night at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, TN on September 3. Tickets for Eddie’s will be on sale at the Eddie’s Attic website in mid-January. Tickets for the Bluebird show will be on sale the week before the show. Hope to see lots of you there!

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Circus Girl among CMT’s Greatest Greatest Hits

CMT has released “The Greatest Greatest Hits of 2010” list, and Circus Girl: The Best Of Gretchen Peters is on it! An excerpt: For the thinking country fan interested in looking behind the industry curtain, this set is a dream. Read all about it here.

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Do you Tweet, Friend, Like or Ping?

Just a reminder: if the caption above makes sense to you, you can follow me at the links below:

Gretchen on Twitter
Gretchen on Facebook
Gretchen on Ping (iTunes)

Wine, Women & Song on Facebook

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Germany & Holland

Just a reminder about our spring European tour – check the tour page for details. Here are the dates:

10 March – Cologne, Germany
12 March – Berlin, Germany
13 March – Hannover, Germany
14 March – Duisburg, Germany
15 March – Koblenz, Germany
16 March – Amsterdam, Netherlands
17 March – Den Haag, Netherlands
18 March – Bakkeveen, Netherlands
19 March – Lage Vuursche, Netherlands
20 March – Venlo, Netherlands
22 March – Kassel, Germany
23 March – Erfurt, Germany
24 March – Dresden, Germany
25 March – Hamburg, Germany

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Download of the Month

January’s free download is the demo version of “This Town”. It’s really a skeletal sketch of what eventually ended up on the “Burnt Toast & Offerings” album – no background vocals, no concertina or pennywhistle – but it was the template.

2010 was a very eventful year for me, and one of the biggest events was the devastating flood that hit Nashville on May 1 (here’s a blog entry I wrote the following week). I have never sung this song since without thinking of that day.

This Town (under water)

x Gretchen

In the bleak midwinter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron
Water like a stone

-Christina Rossetti

driving through Kansas, November 2010

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What a Year

There are years, and there are Years; this has been a Year. We started out with a huge (for Nashville) blizzard, or as it was called here, The Situation 2010. The Situation cancelled my annual benefit for Planned Parenthood, this year with guests Marshall Chapman and Minton Sparks, but we braved the ice and met for Thai food that night, and ended up writing a song about Jerry Lee Lewis. Serendipity strikes once. There were a couple of great Wine, Women & Song shows stateside in February (Columbus, OH & Atlanta, GA), and a show with Rodney Crowell in March. Barry and I mentioned that we were getting married, and Rodney mentioned that he was an ordained minister and could do the job. Serendipity strikes twice.

In May, Nashville was hit by an epic 1000-year flood. The Situation was far more serious this time. Just as the city was picking itself up and surveying the damage (over $1.5 billion), we were flying over to the UK to begin the “Circus Girl: Without A Net” tour. With the aid of an old top hat and some very generous fans, we were able to raise over £800 for flood relief. In June we played a great show in Nashville with friend and collaborator Tom Russell. In attendance were Marshall Chapman, Nanci Griffith and Steve Young, among others. July took us back to the UK to play a couple festivals. Our sets at Cambridge Folk Festival were really well received and we had a blast playing for a lot of new folks.

at 3rd & Lindsley with (L to R)Thad Beckman, Nadine Russell, Nanci Griffith, Tom Russell, Steve Young

As most of you know, we took the autumn (mostly) off to get married. Rodney Crowell officiated, as promised, and we were serenaded by incredibly talented friends like Jeff Hanna, Matraca Berg, Suzy Bogguss, Mary Gauthier, Tom Russell, Bryan Adams, Tia Sillers, John Lester, Tania Elizabeth and more. After the wedding (and a little work on Tom’s upcoming album here in Nashville), we had a beautiful honeymoon in New Orleans, truly one of the Great Cities. I also had a blast singing with The Long Players, who perform an entire classic album at once – it was my good fortune to be invited to sing the title cut from John Lennon’s “Imagine” album. There’s a bit of video here.

And here we are at the end of a YEAR. A blizzard, a flood, a wedding, and a couple of trips across the big pond. Last week we headed west one last time, this time to see Leonard Cohen in Portland, Oregon, a sublime show that will be with me for a long, long time. In a year of superlatives it only seems right to be closing it out in the presence of one of the Greats.

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Bluebird Cafe

Over the past couple of years I’ve been doing a semi-regular “in the round” show with buddies Janis Ian, Craig Carothers & Tony Arata. If you are in Nashville on December 17th, you can catch our last show of the year at the Bluebird Cafe at 9:30PM. Tickets usually sell out quickly, so hurry.

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deep in December, the year has grown old…

Christmas album available now!

…and we have a fresh batch of “Northern Lights” CDs just in time for Christmas. Order now, and we’ll get it out to you in plenty of time to pour a glass of wine, sit in front of the tree and enjoy the season. Did I mention they make great stocking stuffers? Check it out here. From now through Christmas we are sending orders out the next business day after they are received, so you can receive them in time for gifting (or enjoying!)

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Ping!

Apple has provided me with an official Ping artist profile, and I’m posting a Ping song of the week there on most Mondays. It’s my firm belief that most musicians are frustrated DJs, and it’s been a lot of fun to spread the word about songs and artists I love. If you’re an iTunes user, you can follow me here.

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Germany & Holland

Our spring European tour is coming together, and the Dutch and German dates have been posted! Check the tour page for details. Here’s the tour so far:

10 March – Cologne, Germany
12 March – Berlin, Germany
13 March – Hannover, Germany
14 March – Duisburg, Germany
15 March – Koblenz, Germany
16 March – Amsterdam, Netherlands
17 March – Den Haag, Netherlands
18 March – Bakkeveen, Netherlands
19 March – Lage Vuursche, Netherlands
20 March – Venlo, Netherlands
22 March – Kassel, Germany
23 March – Erfurt, Germany
24 March – Dresden, Germany
25 March – Hamburg, Germany

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Wine, Women & Song

Matraca Berg, Suzy Bogguss and I now have a Wine, Women & Song Facebook page! If you’re on Facebook, we hope you’ll “like” us. You can find all the news about our upcoming UK tour and a few other exciting announcements coming soon.

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Download of the Month

Merry Christmas from our house to yours

This month’s free download is a little early Christmas present from Barry and me, recorded at home one frosty November morning. Visit the download page to get December’s free download (and my grandma Adele’s fabulous gingerbread recipe!) May your days be merry and bright.

x Gretchen

“Love is wonderful the second time around.”
– Sammy Cahn

October 2, 2010

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Just Married

On October 2 at 6:00PM, Barry Walsh and I affirmed our longtime relationship before family and friends in a beautiful ceremony in a churchyard near our home in Nashville. Rodney Crowell officiated, and after the ceremony performed his song “I Know Love Is All I Need”. There was not a dry eye around.

first dance

It was a gorgeous, if somewhat windy evening. At the reception, Bryan Adams, who interrupted his tour to be there, serenaded us with “Heaven” for our first dance. Afterwards, a seemingly endless parade of friends, including Matraca Berg, Suzy Bogguss, Rodney Crowell, Jeff Hanna, Tom Russell, Mary Gauthier, John Lester, Conni Ellisor, Tia Sillers, John Hobbs, Christine Bougie, Tania Elizabeth all performed. The evening ended, of course, in a massive jam session.

wedding singers, L to R: Doug Crider, Suzy Bogguss, Matraca Berg, Jeff Hanna, Rodney Crowell

After the wedding we honeymooned in New Orleans, where we ate, drank and floated on memories of a magical night. Barry and I are grateful for the lovely messages of congratulations and well wishes we received from many of you, from all over the globe. We are tremendously, giddily happy.

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“Independence Day” released on Warner Brothers

Warner Bros. Records is releasing two volumes of The Original Songwriter Demos, a collection of original demo performances of some of country music’s most influential hits written and performed by the creator’s themselves – the songwriters. The original demo of “Independence Day”, as Martina McBride first heard it, is included on Volume 1.

Check it out at Warner Bros. website.

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Dutch Tour dates & our first German tour!

As most of you know, our European tour, which was originally planned for this month, was postponed until March 2011. We have confirmed the Dutch and German tour dates, and they’re now posted at the website. More European shows will be posted as soon as they’re confirmed – stay tuned, and as always, check the tour calendar often for updates.

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Wine, Women & Song news

 

Moonshine Hill in Leipers Fork, TN

Matraca Berg, Suzy Bogguss and I just came back from a three day songwriting/recording retreat in Leipers Fork, Tennessee. We wrote a great song, worked out harmonies on a few cover tunes, drank some good wine and cooked some great meals, and now we’re cooking up another Wine, Women & Song UK tour in May 2011. We’ll keep you posted on dates and other exciting news as it’s confirmed.

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Ping!

Apple has introduced Ping, a social network for music via the new iTunes 10. They have provided me with an official Ping artist profile. I’m posting favorite songs and new discoveries at least once a week there. For those of you who miss the old “GP Picks”, this might make up for it a little bit. If you’re an iTunes user, you can follow me on Ping here.

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Christmastime is here

Well, not yet. But we have a fresh batch of my holiday/winter album, Northern Lights in stock, so if you don’t have yours yet, you can order it in plenty of time to get in the spirit. Here’s where to get it.

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Tune us in on The Music Row Show

On November 7, Barry and I dropped in on Scott and Heino of The Music Row Show for a song and a chat. A podcast of the show will soon be available on the website for listening.

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Download of the Month

This month’s free download is “This Used To Be My Town”, a song that started out as a collection of memories about Pelham, NY, the small suburb of Manhattan where I grew up. “The station wagons in the pouring rain”, and “walking by the football field” were just pictures in my head, until I connected those images with the story of Elizabeth Smart, whose abduction was all over the news that summer. The track was recorded live at the Rutledge, Nashville, TN on August 8, 2009 by Frank Sass.

x

G

“yes I said yes I will Yes.”

– James Joyce

Aberdeen, Scotland 2005

Some personal news

On October 2, Barry Walsh and I will be getting married here in Nashville. We’ve been friends and musical partners for 20 years. We’ve traveled thousands of miles together, shared impossibly small hotel rooms, suffered sleep deprivation and bad soundchecks, walked the streets of countless cities and the concourses of many airports, and shared transcendent moments both on stage and off. We feel very, very lucky to be able to live this life together. We hope we’re not tempting fate, but next month we will be married in a churchyard in Nashville surrounded by family & friends. Our friend (and ordained minister) Rodney Crowell will preside over the ceremony. Our children will be there, and yes, there will be music. Lots of it. We are eternally grateful to you for making it possible for us to make a life in music, and for indulging us in a little time off while we take a break from touring for awhile. There will be no newsletter in October, but I’ll send out another one in November, hopefully with a wedding photo or two. The free download of the month will also resume in November. From our house to yours, we wish you joy.

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California

On Friday, Sept. 11 I’ll be in Venice, CA for a special show presented by Grassroots Acoustica to benefit Alzheimer’s research. Tour dates for 2011 will be posted as they are confirmed – please check the tour schedule and keep checking back for updates.

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European Tour postponed

Our European tour, which was originally planned for November, has been postponed. We hope that by postponing we will be able to cover more ground; shows are being considered for Holland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Scandinavia and Ireland. Tour dates will be posted as soon as they are confirmed – stay tuned, and as always, check the tour calendar for details.

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Wine, Women & Song UK Tour

 

Matraca, Suzy and me in the studio last month

 

Another Wine, Women & Song tour with Matraca Berg, Suzy Bogguss and me is also in the works for the UK in May 2011 – we’ll keep you posted on dates as they are confirmed. By the way, Matraca and Suzy both have new albums finished, and they are both fabulous. Suzy and I were in the studio recently to sing on Matraca’s “South Of Heaven“. Check out both Matraca’s and Suzy’s websites for more info.

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St Cloud redux

New versions of this song keep popping up on YouTube. Here are three of my favorites:

Jessica Harp of The Wreckers singing “On A Bus To St. Cloud” at St. Cloud State University, Minnesota.

A retrospective video of the 2010 Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, by Neale Eckstein of Fox Run Concerts – the soundtrack is Jimmy LaFave singing “On A Bus To St. Cloud”.

Barry Walsh and me at Cambridge Folk Festival, performing – you guessed it – “On A Bus To St. Cloud”.

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Download of the Month

This month’s free download is “The Way You Move Me”, recorded live at Tales From The Tavern on September 9, 2009. I wrote this song for Barry, and there’s not much more to say – hopefully it speaks for itself.

 Visit the Download page to get September’s free download. Enjoy.

x

G

“The English summer – three fine days and a thunderstorm.”
-Charles II

swans on the Thames

We are back from our second trip to the UK in as many months. Re-entering the sweltering South was a rude awakening after spending ten breezy seventy-ish degree days in England, Charles II notwithstanding. The highlight of our mini-tour was Cambridge Folk Festival, where we received such a warm reception we never wanted to leave. Close behind were our stints on ‘Weekend Wogan’, the Trowbridge Folk Festival and a cozy gig in Bristol. But for now it’s back to Tennessee, in the red hot center of the warmest summer on record.

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Links, links, links

onstage at Cambridge Folk Festival - photo courtesy of @robdebuilder on Twitter

There were a lot of people with microphones and/or video cameras at Cambridge. Here are some links:

Our performance of “On A Bus To St. Cloud” from Saturday night at Cambridge Folk Festival

A post-show dressing room chat with Mandy Morton from BBC Cambridgeshire (listen at about 1 hour in)

An Irish Music blog with nice mention of our Cambridge appearance & the songwriting workshop I did on Sunday morning

A blog by songwriter Malcolm Guite about a song he wrote as a result of the songwriting workshop

An interview with the Northern Sky blog after our first Cambridge show on Saturday night (audio)

Another Cambridge review

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Other news from the mother country

We started our mini-tour with the popular live radio show Weekend Wogan where they boast a fabulous crew and band, a beautiful studio and of course, Sir Terry himself, the most gracious of hosts. Everyone was so lovely to us. The queue to get in wound all the way around the BBC Broadcasting House – this is a serious ticket.

Barry Walsh and me on the set of 'Weekend Wogan' - photo courtesy of Hellen Bach

After doing our three songs we raced to Trowbridge in time for our set on the main stage, just before Mary Black. Mary is one of my favorite singers on the planet, and I finally got the chance to tell her so after both our sets. I asked her to sing “Columbus“, a gorgeous Noel Brazil song I’ve loved for years. It wasn’t on her set list, but she obliged gracefully and we watched from side of the stage. She just gets better.

Mid-week we found ourselves playing a sweet, intimate little gig in a jazz venue in Bristol. We had a lovely, warm crowd, so we tried out three new songs on them. It’s a little scary to do new songs for the first time, but they have to be debuted somewhere, and this seemed as good a place as any.

with Mary Black after our sets at Trowbridge - photo courtesy of David Betteridge/DHB Photography

In between shows we watched swans on the Thames, had a delicious curry in Reading, and shopped too much on Oxford Street in London. It’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it.

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Hey Ladies

Awhile back, I participated in a survey by National Public Radio of women musicians. NPR asked hundreds of working women musicians to describe what it’s like right now: the good, the bad and the same as it ever was. ” Click here to read more about the project and see the responses. To read my full questionaire, click here. My responses are also featured in the collections “The First Time“,  “Old School/New School“, “Advice” and “Gear“.

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Upcoming Tour Dates

Upcoming tour dates include Durango, CO where we will be at the historic Henry Strater Theater (otherwise known as “The Hank”); Vacaville, CA (the Art, Wine & Brew festival) and Venice, CA (a special night presented by Grassroots Acoustica to benefit Alzheimer’s research). A European tour is being planned for November 2010 – we’ve already posted two Dutch dates, with more to come. Dates are still being confirmed – check out the tour schedule and keep checking back for updates.

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Download of the Month

This month’s free download is “Germantown”, recorded live at Eddie’s Attic in Decatur, Georgia on April 15th, 2010 (which also happened to be Barry Walsh’s birthday). The song first appeared on the “Halcyon” album, and has been a staple on the setlist ever since. This version was recorded from the mixing console by Shalom Aberle, one of our favorite live engineers. Big thanks to Eddie & Shalom! Enjoy. Visit the Download page to get August’s free download. Enjoy.

x

G

“Summer afternoon – summer afternoon;to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”

– Henry James

the (so far) pristine white beaches of the Florida panhandle

As I write this it is a summer afternoon in northwest Florida, where I am holed up writing songs for what I hope will be a new album. It’s hot – I can never remember nor imagine how sticky and steamy it gets here in midsummer. The frequent rain showers are welcome, and sometimes very dramatic. Florida thunderstorms are violent and beautiful and a good reminder that we are not in charge here…

And speaking of man vs. nature, the BP/Deepwater oil spill has finally reached this part of the coast – although not as severely as it has to the west – and there is palpable fear, sadness and tension among the people who live here. No one knows from one day to the next what will happen. This fragile little stretch of beach is one of my favorite places on earth, and it’s heartbreaking to think of what might be coming. We have to stop the madness. We have to kick the oil addiction and move on. We simply have to. Here’s a good place to start.

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The Secret Of Life is a good cup of coffee…

But you need a good mug to drink it from. By popular demand, we’re bringing back the Secret Of Life coffee mugs we sold on the road a few years ago. But they’re sorely in need of a style update. A fan on Twitter suggested that instead of using a professional artist, we ask you to come up with a design – what a great idea! So all of you who are talented artists, designers or dabblers in things graphic, please send us your ideas!

your design here!

The Fine Print: Your design should be one color, sized for a standard diner mug. It should contain the phrase “The secret of life is a good cup of coffee”. Please send only high res JPGs, TIFFs, or GIFs. By entering this contest you are giving us the right to reproduce your design on a commercially available mug for no financial consideration. If a winning design is chosen, winner will receive a personalized, autographed copy of the CD of his or her choice, and a pair of mugs. Winner will also receive gratitude, kudos, virtual high-fives, and his or her photo (if desired) in a future newsletter.

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UK pitches in for Nashville flood relief

To all our friends from the UK who donated money during our recent tour, I want to pass along this thank-you from The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee:

Dear Gretchen –
Thanks for helping to organize this collection of funds for The Community Foundation’s flood relief efforts. We are so appreciative!
The money raised while on tour in the U.K. has been donated to The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, a non-profit organization in Nashville, TN that is working with the community to address its immediate and long-term needs from the May 2010 floods. The Community Foundation is collecting donations and making grants to non-profit organizations working on the frontlines who are providing direct services and have established systems in place to assess needs and get help to the people who need it.
Please let me know if you need anything else and please pass along our thanks to your fans for their generosity!

Best, Jennifer
Jennifer Schwartzenberg
The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee

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Heading back across the pond…

Barry Walsh and I are coming back to the UK in July to do a few dates, including the Trowbridge Village Pump Festival (22-25 July) and the 2010 Cambridge Folk Festival (29 July – 1 August). You can see the full lineup for both festivals at the Cambridge Festival site and the Trowbridge Festival site. Specific stages and times are below.
I will be doing a songwriting workshop while at Cambridge – the workshop will take place on Sunday in the Club Tent at 10:00AM. If you’d like to stop by and chat and get CDs or programmes signed, I will also be doing a session in the signing tent – please check the Festival programme for date & time.


Trowbridge Village Pump Festival

Sunday, July 25 – 3:15PM – Stage TBA


Cambridge Folk Festival

Saturday July 31 – 8:25PM – Stage 2

Sunday August 1 – songwriting workshop – Club Tent, 10:00AM

Sunday August 1 – 1:00PM – Stage 1

In addition to the festivals, we’ll be appearing on Terry Wogan’s live radio show, Weekend Wogan on BBC Radio 2 on Sunday, July 25 at 11AM. Tune in to BBC Radio 2 or listen online at the website.

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Colorado and California dates added

on tour in California, 2009

We are heading west at the end of August for what has become our annual tour. Dates posted so far include Durango, CO; Vacaville, CA (the Art, Wine & Brew festival) and Venice, CA (a special night presented by Grassroots Acoustica to benefit Alzheimer’s research). More dates are being confirmed – check out the tour schedule here, and keep checking back for updates.

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Fun fan video!
Recently someone sent me a link to this video set to “Sunday Morning (Up And Down My Street)”. Check it out – clever, no? If you have made (or know of) any other fun or interesting videos set to any of my songs, let me know and I’ll share them here.

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Download of the Month
By popular demand, this month’s download is a live version of “The Letter”, a song Barry and I started doing as a sort of tribute to Alex Chilton, who passed away suddenly last spring. Barry played with Alex as a touring member of The Box Tops for nine years. We recorded this at Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, VA, where we were fortunate to have Bill Cunningham, an original Box Top, in the audience. Visit the Download page to get July’s free download. Enjoy.

x

Gretchen

“Constantly risking absurdity and death whenever he performs above the heads of his audience, the poet, like an acrobat, climbs on rhyme to a high wire of his own making.”
– Lawrence Ferlinghetti

the ringmaster

We are home from England, happy to be back but still buzzing from the shows. In some ways I was more sorry to see this last tour come to an end than any before. It was a combination of class reunion, lovefest, and 3 ring circus (literally). I expected to see lots of familiar faces, forget some lyrics, and feel a bit overwhelmed from time to time, trying to remember songs I hadn’t played in years. What I didn’t expect was to find new life in some of those songs, and in your enthusiasm for them. We reworked some of the old standbys to keep them from getting stale for us, and you were right there with us. Barry and I both felt like we tapped into a new vein of improvisation this time out, by necessity as much as anything (when there are 100+ songs to choose from, you’d better be ready to improvise), and we enjoyed it more than either of us could’ve predicted. Expect more of that the next time we see you.

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Without A Net

The Circus Girl – Without A Net UK tour is history, but set lists, reviews and photos from the tour have been posted. There’s even a bit of video of our ringmaster, aka John Smeathers, introducing me at the Cheadle Hulme show, a performance he reprised at the last show in Derby.

the top hat

Finally, I was greatly moved by the generosity and concern of our UK audiences at the news of the Nashville flood. At every show we placed a top hat on the merch table to receive donations for flood victims, and at every show the hat was full. Thanks to all of you who helped us raise over £800!

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Back to the Workhouse

Washington DC area folks, heads up! We’ll be returning to a wonderful new venue we discovered last year – the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, VA on June 6th. If you’re in the DC area this is your chance to come see us in 2010!

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One To The Heart, One To The Head, One Show Only

On June 17th I’ll be playing a double bill with my friend and frequent collaborator Tom Russell. We’ll be at 3rd & Lindsley in Nashville, TN, joined by Barry Walsh and Thad Beckman. Tom hasn’t played a Nashville show in years, so we expect a lot of people out for this one. Show starts early at 7PM, so get your tickets soon to hear “Ash Wednesday”, “Billy 4”, “Guadalupe” and other songs from the One To The Heart, One To The Head CD and more.
As always, details on all shows are available in the Tour section of the website.

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Festivals!

UK folks, we’ll be back again in July for the Trowbridge Village Pump Festival (22-25 July) and the 2010 Cambridge Folk Festival (29 July – 1 August). You can see the full lineup for both festivals at the Cambridge Festival site and the Trowbridge Festival site. Specific stages and times will be announced soon in the Tour section at gretchenpeters.com.

with Terry Wogan in Aberdeen, Scotland 2005

In addition to the two festivals, I will be appearing on BBC Radio 2’s Weekend Wogan, Terry Wogan’s hugely popular new live radio show, on Sunday morning 25 July. Mark your calendar and tune in for that one!

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California here we come

We will be back in California for what is becoming an annual event – our late summer tour! We can’t think of a better way to spend early September than driving down the coast and playing for folks along the way. We’ll kick it off in Vacaville with the Art, Wine & Brew festival, and make our way south, ending in Venice for a special night presented by Grassroots Acoustica. Check out the tour dates (more to come) at the website.

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Download Of The Month

This month’s download is, appropriately enough, a version of “Circus Girl”, recorded live at the Rutledge in Nashville last summer during the webcast we did to kick off the limited 2 CD edition of the album by the same name. “Circus Girl” was one of the most requested songs on the Without A Net tour. Visit the Download page to get June’s free download. Enjoy.

x

Gretchen

Complete list of set lists for the Circus Girl – Without A Net UK tour. Last minute changes may have been made after these were printed.

ROBIN 2 – BILSTON
12 MAY, 2010

1. Waiting For The Light To Turn Green
2. Let That Pony Run
photos #1 – BW
3. Germantown
photos #2 – GP early days
4. Aviator’s Song
5. Sunday Morning (Up And Down My Street)
photos #3 – GP early music biz
6. Border Town
photos #4 – cowboys
7. Snowin’ On Raton
8. Breakfast At Our House
9. Independence Day

intermission

10. Child Of Mine
11. The Secret Of Life
photos #5 – Nashville flood
12. Revival/Louisiana 1927
photos #6 – Touring
13. Waiting For Amelia
14. My Baby Loves Me
photos #7 – UK
15. On A Bus To St. Cloud
16. Circus Girl
photos #8 – Friends
17. The Letter
18. When You Are Old
photos #9 – Us
19. To Say Goodbye

encores:    If Heaven
Woman On The Wheel

KING TUT’S – GLASGOW
14 MAY 2010

1. Waiting For The Light To Turn Green
2. Let That Pony Run
photos #1 – BW
3. Germantown
photos #2 – GP early days
4. Aviator’s Song
5. Sunday Morning (Up And Down My Street)
photos #3 – Nashville flood
6. Revival/Louisiana 1927
7. Secret of Life
photos #4 – GP early music biz
8. If I Could Just Get Over You – requested and played for 1st time at King Tut’s, 1997
9. The Way You Move Me
photos #5 – cowboys
10. Guadalupe – for Liz & Jim who came to album release Nashville, 1996
11. Independence Day

intermission

12. Billy 4
13. Breakfast At Our House
photos #6 – Touring
14. Circus Girl
15. Cowboys Born Out Of Their Time
photos #7 – UK
16. When You Are Old
17. Hey Elvis
photos #8 – Friends
18. The Letter
19. On A Bus To St. Cloud – for Mike
photos #9 – Us
20. To Say Goodbye – for Alyson and Emily from their friend Idoia

encores:    If Heaven
Woman On The Wheel

CHAD’S THEATRE – CHEADLE HULM
15 MAY 2010

1. A Room With A View
photos #1 – BW
2. Germantown
photos #2 – GP early days
3. Aviator’s Song
4. Sunday Morning (Up And Down My Street)
photos #3 – Nashville flood
5. Revival/Louisiana 1927
6. Secret of Life
photos #4 – GP early music biz
7. Main Street
8. Souvenirs
photos #5 – cowboys
9. Guadalupe
10. Independence Day

intermission

11. If I Had A Gun
12. North Platte/Prairie In The Sky
photos #6 – Touring
13. Circus Girl
14. The Secret Of LIfe
photos #7 – UK
15. When You Are Old
16. This Town
photos #8 – Friends
17. The Letter
18. On A Bus To St. Cloud
photos #9 – Us
19. To Say Goodbye

encores:    If Heaven
Woman On The Wheel

TOWN HALL – SELBY
16 MAY 2010

1. If Heaven
photos #1 – BW
2. Germantown
photos #2 – GP early days
3. Aviator’s Song
4. Sunday Morning (Up And Down My Street)
photos #3 – Nashville flood
5. Revival/Louisiana 1927
6. Secret of Life
photos #4 – GP early music biz
7. Summer People
8. I Ain’t Ever Satisfied – for Mike Evans who was at 1st gig at the Pheasant/Sheffield
photos #5 – cowboys
9. Guadalupe
10. Independence Day

intermission

11. Waiting For The Light
12.  This Used To Be My Town
photos #6 – Touring
13. Circus Girl
14. Lilies Of The Field
photos #7 – UK
15. When You Are Old – for Happy 50th Birthday to Alan from wife Nathalie
16. This Town
photos #8 – Friends
17. The Letter
18. On A Bus To St. Cloud
photos #9 – Us
19. To Say Goodbye

encores:    The Way You Move Me
Woman On The Wheel

THE SAGE – GATESHEAD
17 MAY 2010

1. Room With A View
2. Let That Pony Run – for Helen
photos #1 – BW
3. I Ain’t Ever Satisfied
photos #2 – GP early days
4. Aviator’s Song
5. Sunday Morning (Up And Down My Street)
photos #3 – Nashville flood
6. Revival/Louisiana 1927
7. Secret of Life
photos #4 – GP early music biz
8. Black Eyed Susan
photos #5 – cowboys
9. Guadalupe
10. Independence Day

intermission

11. Waiting For The Light
12.  Summer People
photos #6 – Touring
13. Circus Girl
14. Leaving Newcastle
photos #7 – UK
15. When You Are Old
16. Like Water Into Wine
photos #8 – Friends
17. The Letter
18. England Blues
19. On A Bus To St. Cloud
photos #9 – Us
20. To Say Goodbye

encores:    Woman On The Wheel
Over Africa

THE TABERNACLE – LONDON
19 MAY 2010

1. If Heaven
photos #1 – BW
2. Germantown
photos #2 – GP early days
3. Aviator’s Song
4. Sunday Morning (Up And Down My Street)
photos #3 – Nashville flood
5. Revival/Louisiana 1927
6. Secret of Life
photos #4 – GP early music biz
7. You Don’t Even Know Who I Am – for Sam
photos #5 – cowboys
8. Guadalupe
9. Independence Day

intermission

10. I Saw Your Light
11. Picasso & Me
12.  Breakfast At Our House
photos #6 – Touring
13. Circus Girl
14. This Used To Be My Town
photos #7 – UK
15. When You Are Old
16. Lilies Of The Field
photos #8 – Friends
17. The Letter
18. Waiting For The Light
19. On A Bus To St. Cloud
photos #9 – Us
20. To Say Goodbye

encores:    The Way You Move Me

THE STABLES – MILTON KEYNES
22 MAY 2010

1. If Heaven
photos #1 – BW
2. Germantown
photos #2 – GP early days
3. Aviator’s Song
4. Waiting For The Light To Turn Green
photos #3 – Nashville flood
5. Revival/Louisiana 1927
6. Secret of Life
photos #4 – GP early music biz
7. Souvenirs
photos #5 – cowboys
8. Guadalupe
9. Independence Day

intermission

10. If I Had A Gun
11. Tomorrow Morning – for Steve who drove from Liverpool
12.  This Used To Be My Town
photos #6 – Touring
13. Circus Girl
14. Sunday Morning (Up And Down My Street)
photos #7 – UK
15. When You Are Old
16. This Town
photos #8 – Friends
17. The Letter
18. My Baby Loves Me – for Andy
19. On A Bus To St. Cloud
photos #9 – Us
20. To Say Goodbye

encores:    One For My Baby
Over Africa

THE TUNNELS – BRISTOL
23 MAY 2010

Rich – sound

1. If Heaven
photos #1 – BW
2. Germantown
photos #2 – GP early days
3. Aviator’s Song
4. I Ain’t Ever Satisfied
photos #3 – Nashville flood
5. Revival/Louisiana 1927
6. Secret of Life
photos #4 – GP early music biz
7. This Uncivil War
photos #5 – cowboys
8. Guadalupe
9. Independence Day

intermission

10. Love & Texaco
11. Waiting For Amelia – for Pauline
12.  You Don’t Even Know Who I Am
photos #6 – Touring
13. Circus Girl
14. Sunday Morning (Up And Down My Street)
photos #7 – UK
15. When You Are Old – for Keith’s birthday
16. Waiting For The Light To Turn Green
photos #8 – Friends
17. The Letter
18. Hey Elvis
19. On A Bus To St. Cloud
photos #9 – Us
20. To Say Goodbye

encores:
One For My Baby
Over Africa – for Jane

THE JUNCTION – CAMBRIDGE
25 MAY 2010

Paddy – sound

1. If Heaven
photos #1 – BW
2. Germantown
photos #2 – GP early days
3. Aviator’s Song
4. Tomorrow Morning
photos #3 – Nashville flood
5. Revival/Louisiana 1927
6. Secret of Life
photos #4 – GP early music biz
7. Main Street
photos #5 – cowboys
8. Blue Mountains of Mexico
9. Independence Day

intermission

10. Jezebel
11. Lilies Of The Field
12.  Breakfast At Our House
photos #6 – Touring
13. Circus Girl
14. Sunday Morning (Up And Down My Street)
photos #7 – UK
15. When You Are Old
16. Waiting For The Light To Turn Green
photos #8 – Friends
17. The Letter
18. My Baby Loves Me
19. On A Bus To St. Cloud
photos #9 – Us
20. To Say Goodbye

encores:
The Way You Move Me – for John and Kelly
Woman On The Wheel

CHEQUER MEAD – EAST GRINSTEAD
26 MAY 2010

1. If Heaven
photos #1 – BW
2. Germantown
photos #2 – GP early days
3. Aviator’s Song
4. Souvenirs – for Conor who wrote a very charming note involving being tongue-tied at the signing table at a Wine, Women & Song show, lugging a fallen tree off a road at midnight, and a four foot high papier maché Mt. Rushmore
photos #3 – Nashville flood
5. Revival/Louisiana 1927
6. Secret of Life
photos #4 – GP early music biz
7. I Ain’t Ever Satisfied
photos #5 – cowboys
8. Guadalupe
9. Independence Day

intermission

10. Lilies Of The Field    – for Chris
11. To See You Again
12. This Used To Be My Town
photos #6 – Touring
13. Circus Girl
14. Sunday Morning (Up And Down My Street)
photos #7 – UK
15. When You Are Old
16. Waiting For The Light To Turn Green
photos #8 – Friends
17. The Letter
18. Hey Elvis
19. On A Bus To St. Cloud
photos #9 – Us
20. To Say Goodbye

encores:
The Way You Move Me
Woman On The Wheel

THE FLOWERPOT – DERBY
27 MAY 2010

1. If Heaven
photos #1 – BW
2. Germantown
photos #2 – GP early days
3. Aviator’s Song
4. Waiting For Amelia
photos #3 – Nashville flood
5. Revival/Louisiana 1927
6. Secret of Life
photos #4 – GP early music biz
7. Love And Texaco
photos #5 – cowboys
8. Guadalupe
9. Independence Day
10. Breakfast At Our House
11. Exeter Cathedral – for Martin
photos #6 – Touring
12. Circus Girl
photos #7 – UK
13.When You Are Old
photos #8 – Friends
14. The Letter
15.  To Say Goodbye

encores:
On A Bus To St. Cloud
Woman On The Wheel

Rosa L. Parks Boulevard, Nashville

I’ve always struggled with the question “where are you from?”. For as long as I can remember I’ve never felt I had a home town in the sense that most people do. I never felt a strong sense of rootedness in any one particular place. I was born in Westchester, New York and lived there until I was 13, and I still feel in some ways like a Northeasterner, if not a New Yorker. I have family ties there, and probably the most important tie, childhood memories. I spent my next 17 years in Boulder, Colorado, and they were formative years. Still, I always knew I would leave Boulder, and though my family is there and it’s a wonderful, unique place, it’s not really where I feel I’m from, either.

Last weekend, my adopted home of 22 years, Nashville, Tennessee, endured a flood of biblical proportions. Fifteen inches of rain fell in two days. At first we made light of the situation; we even went to a party in the midst of the torrential storm that raged that Saturday night. We kept an eye on the weather report, but flash flood warnings around here are as common as biscuits and gravy. The rain kept falling on Sunday, in sheets. The word started to trickle out that the flooding would be bad. Still, we thought that would only mean a few flooded basements, maybe a couple of road closures. We’d seen it all before.

Except we hadn’t. There’s no way to describe the surreality of waking up on a Monday morning to a perfect, blue-sky spring day, and utter devastation. Water was everywhere. We took a walk in our neighborhood, and saw crazy, impossible things – traffic lights hanging just a few feet above water, entire cars submerged to their roofs. Rivers where our neighborhood streets used to be. People boating across soccer fields. By Monday morning we knew that the river was still rising, and according to the cruel physics of flooding, would continue to rise until late that night, when it crested at 12 feet above flood stage.

As the waters ravaged the downtown area, Opryland, and countless outlying suburbs and surrounding towns, we realized that almost no one from the outside world knew. And it did feel like the world was somewhere far outside this sphere of death and destruction – there was a strange sense of isolation, even though cell phones were working (sporadically) and a few of the lucky ones (us included) never lost power or internet. No one seemed to have noticed that Nashville was drowning. Normally when a natural disaster happens, the media coverage is obsessive, and if you’re in the vicinity the telephone calls start coming in almost immediately. On that Monday, the only calls we got were from friends in Nashville, checking to see how we made it and letting us know they were OK. Other news stories, deemed more important, took precedence, and we were left to our own devices (fortunately, the reaction from the White House was not slow and FEMA was here almost immediately – it was the media that was absent).

This is where it began to dawn on me how much I love this city. I can’t explain exactly why, or how, but seeing the Opry stage door, which I’ve been privileged to walk through several times, up to its doorknobs in water – knowing the beautiful pipe organ at the Schermerhorn Symphony Hall, which I heard played magnificently at a concert last year, was severely damaged – all of this terrible destruction bestowed an epiphany on me. This is my home town. These people, who put on their waders and work clothes and face masks and got to work Monday, because things needed doing and people needed help, are my fellow Nashvillians. All of us cried at the sight of the Opry under six feet of water. All of us felt outrage that the media wasn’t paying attention to this, our worst crisis since the Civil War. All of us beamed when the local telethon, star-studded and led by Vince Gill (who else would step up to lead yet another benefit, this time maybe the most important one he’s ever done?) raised $1.7 million in a few hours. I’ve never been so proud of my city, from the micro-local level (on Monday night, at least half of my neighborhood was out sandbagging at a nearby waste treatment plant) to city-wide (there was virtually no looting or other opportunistic crime – just neighbors, asking what they could do). I felt a sudden and deep stab of love for this city and all its familiar and now endangered landmarks, the beautiful ones, the historic ones and the cheesy ones alike. This city, which has by turns frustrated and charmed and ignored and loved me – just like a spouse – for better or worse, was mine, too. I have history here. I have roots here.

Nashville will recover. It’s a great city, and great cities draw creative, talented and energetic people. We have those in abundance, and they will rebuild Nashville, and in some ways it will be even better. Nashville would recover with or without me. But I’m here, and one week after the flood, I know the answer to the question. I’m from Nashville.

“Crash on the levee, mama
Water’s gonna overflow
Swamps gonna rise
And no boats gonna row”
-Bob Dylan, “Down In The Flood

The Nashville Flood of 2010

It’s been a rather eventful weekend in Nashville. The worst flood in the city’s history, 15 inches of rain in two days, cars under 10 feet of water, carp swimming down city streets, buildings floating down highways. It’s creepily reminiscent of the final scene from one of my favorite movies, Magnolia, where frogs rain down from the sky. At this point, frogs wouldn’t surprise me a bit. There have been flood stories, both heartbreaking and hilarious, flood parties (we spent Saturday night in a neighbor’s photography studio listening to a great bluegrass band while outside the thunder and lightning was rattling the roof), and lots of “are you OK?” emails and phone calls, both incoming and outgoing. And now the sun is out, the birds are singing, life goes on, and we come away with a few new leaks, some hair-raising stories, and a new sense of gratitude for life, limb and friends. Others have not been so lucky, so if you are inclined, please donate to the relief effort at Middle Tennessee Red Cross.

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Without A Net

Barring more floods, tornadoes or volcanic ash, we’ll be arriving in the UK in just over a week to kick off the “Circus Girl – Without A Net” tour. Your song requests and associated memories and anecdotes have been pouring in and they have been wonderful to read. A lot of preparation has gone into this particular venture; remembering, re-learning and sometimes re-working over 20 years worth of songs is a challenge. Some of them I’ve played pretty much constantly over the years, some of them I barely recalled. Along the way I’ve fallen back in love with a few old ones that somehow fell through the cracks. Those will most likely stay in the set list after the tour is a memory.

My homework: two notebooks containing all the lyrics to all the songs

If you have yet to put in a request, there’s still time: you can send me a message via my website, Twitter, Facebook and MySpace. Or if you prefer you can just email me. Please remember to specify the particular show (venue, date and city) that you will be attending, and give us your name, and any other information you’d like to share – where you’re from, how long you’ve been a fan, a personal anecdote, dedication, reminiscence or just your thoughts on the song you want to hear most. Tour dates are listed on the Tour page at gretchenpeters.com. See you there!

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Circus Girl: The Best Of

The 2-CD numbered, Limited Edition of Circus Girl: The Best Of Gretchen Peters is almost gone, but we have just received a shipment of the single CD version, which makes a great gift for the uninitiated! For now, both versions of Circus Girl are available at the Store.

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Tom Russell + more tour dates

On June 17th I’ll be playing a double bill with my friend and frequent collaborator Tom Russell. We’ll be at 3rd & Lindsley in Nashville, TN, joined by Barry Walsh and Thad Beckman. Tom’s newest album “Blood and Candle Smoke” is a tour de force and appeared on all the critics’ year-end lists. This is the only co-bill with Tom booked for 2010 so if you want to hear “Ash Wednesday” and the duets from “One To The Heart, One To The Head” make plans to be there!

with Tom Russell, Denver, CO 2007

We’ve also added a short run to the Washington DC area in June: we’ll be doing the Widerman House Concert on June 5th in Ijamsville, MD, followed by a return to the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, VA on June 6th. If you’re in the DC area come see us!

More US dates coming soon, keep checking back.

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Festival time

We’ll be back in the UK in July for both the Trowbridge Village Pump Festival (22-25 July) and the 2010 Cambridge Folk Festival (29 July – 1 August). You can see the full lineup for both festivals at the Cambridge Festival site and the Trowbridge Festival site. Specific stages and times will be announced soon here.

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Download of the Month

This month’s download is a recently unearthed demo of “Hey Baby”, a song I wrote with my friend Bryan Adams. The track was recorded in Bryan’s studio in Vancouver, Canada late in the evening after we had finished writing the song. It felt like a duet to us, so we sang it that way. Enjoy.

Gretchen & Bryan in Paris

x

Gretchen