Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah GA

an iPod playlist I made recently for a trip through North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.

Sylvie – Sweet Honey In The Rock
Father, I Stretch My Hand To Thee – Rev. C.L. Franklin
Son Of A Preacher Man – Bobbie Gentry
Two Little Fishes, Five Loaves Of Bread – Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Willie And Lauramae Jones – Shelby Lynne
Uncloudy Day – The Staple Singers
The Angels Rejoiced Last Night – The Louvin Brothers
Backwoods Preacher Man – Tony Joe White
These Bones – The Fairfield Four
Ode To Billie Joe – Bobbie Gentry
John 3:16 Guest Preacher At Prayer Meeting – Minton Sparks
Daddy Was An Old Time Preacher Man – Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton
Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down – Kris Kristofferson
Take My Hand, Precious Lord – Elvis Presley
Discussion of Hell – Jerry Lee Lewis
I Was There When It Happened – Johnny Cash
Moses – The Blind Boys Of Alabama
Motherless Children – The Staple Singers
Mary Don’t You Weep – The Swan Silvertones
Coat Of Many Colors – Dolly Parton

“Give the people what they want.”
– The Kinks

the circus is coming to town

Next month I’ll be heading back to the UK for a tour that’s been in the works for almost a year. The idea for the “Circus Girl – Without A Net” tour grew out of many conversations after shows that began something like: “Great show, but I wish you’d sung ______”, or “________ is my favorite song, why don’t you ever play it anymore?” When you have a new album out, it’s natural to want to showcase it, and introduce everyone to the new songs. With “Circus Girl”, we’re going to look back and revisit some of the overlooked ones, and some that just fell off the list along the way. In that spirit, this will be an all-request tour – you will make up the set list. I’ll begin taking your requests on April 1 via my website, Twitter, Facebook and MySpace. Or if you prefer you can just email me. Please keep a few things in mind:

  • specify the particular show (venue, date and city) that you will be attending. We don’t want to do your request without you there.
  • 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.
  • please limit your requests to songs that I’ve either written or recorded. No “Free Bird”!

Given the retrospective nature of this tour I thought it would be fun to add a visual component, too, so I’ll be spicing up the set with some slides and photographs – along with the stories behind the songs, behind the scenes, and sometimes behind the stars… It’s going to be a lot of fun for us, and hopefully for you, too. All the tour dates are now confirmed and listed on the Tour page. We can’t wait to see you out there.

RIP Alex Chilton

Box Tops
Bill Cunningham, Alex Chilton and Barry Walsh - The Box Tops live in Hunterdon, NJ, 2009

Sad news last month about the death of Alex Chilton, Memphis singer and songwriter and founder of the seminal bands The Box Tops and Big Star. I knew Alex just a little bit from meeting him at gigs where my partner Barry Walsh played for the past nine years in the Box Tops. He always seemed to me to be smart, unsentimental and absolutely original. Barry’s remembrance of Alex can be found here in the Blog section of my website (the blog previous to this one). RIP Alex.

Second-chance auction

If you missed your chance to bid in our auction last summer, you may want to get in on this one: to launch the “Circus Girl – Without A Net” tour, we have put a few rare items up for auction on eBay. This isn’t a big auction like we did last August, but there are some great items to bid on, so be sure to check them out. The auction began April 1, at 10AM Nashville time (CDT). Part of the proceeds go to the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, an organization dedicated to protecting these highly intelligent and amazing creatures. And while I’m on that subject, if you haven’t already please see “The Cove“, which won Best Documentary at the 2010 Academy Awards recently. I’d consider it a personal favor if you would donate a few dollars to help their cause.

Going, going, gone

Just a reminder that the Limited Collector’s Edition, 2-CD version of “Circus Girl: The Best Of Gretchen Peters” is just about sold out. We still have a few copies available here. After those sell, they’ll be gone for good, so if you’re still thinking about getting yourself a copy don’t wait too long.

Cambridge Folk Festival

The lineup for the 2010 Cambridge Folk Festival (29 July – 1 August) has just been announced, and I’m excited to be on it! Read the full lineup at the Cambridge Folk Festival website. Specific stages and times will be announced soon on the Tour page of this website.

up North; down South

We are happy to be returning to Canada this month – for one show only on April 10th in Calgary; a co-bill with Greg Trooper. Tickets are available here.

Shortly afterwards we’ll be heading back to the southern US for three dates, the first of which is at the legendary Decatur, GA venue Eddie’s Attic on April 15th. If you live in the Atlanta area come celebrate Barry Walsh’s birthday (and the end of tax season!)  with us at Eddie’s. On April 16th we’re in Birmingham, AL at Moonlight On The Mountain – the former Moonlight Music Cafe which has been revived and promises to be a great music series. And we’ll finish off the southeastern run at the fabulous Bowman House Concert Series – Art Bowman informs me that once again we’ll be playing at the Red Arrow Ranch. It was a magical night of music in the barn the last time we were there, and we’re so happy to be back.

Download of the Month

This month’s download is “Snowin’ On Raton”, recorded live in Denver, Colorado at Swallow Hill Music Association in February of 2009. Barry and I had just learned and arranged the songs from “One To The Heart, One To The Head” for this hometown CD release party and the tour that followed, so they were new to us, sometimes a little ragged, but wonderfully fresh. Enjoy.

x

Gretchen

The news of Alex Chilton’s death has hit us hard. It was 9 years ago, on a cold January morning in 2001, when I first got a call to play a string of dates in Canada with The Box Tops. I met Alex that morning at the airport in Minneapolis, where we all met for the connecting flight to Winnipeg. I learned the Box Tops songs that day on the airplanes, writing out charts while listening to a Walkman.

I spent the last nine years as a part-time Box Top. We never rehearsed. Ever. I learned a few new songs over the years at various soundchecks. I got to know Alex pretty well, and always looked forward to seeing him and hearing his take on various issues going on in the world. He was aware of everything going on around him, and usually had a copy of the New Yorker tucked under his arm. Was a huge fan of contemporary art and spent a lot of his time while traveling hanging out in museums.

I came to expect the unexpected whenever I was around Alex. One day he would bring up Graham Greene, another day it might be politics or food or classical music. Erudite and very liberal with a quick mind, he carried himself through this world floating on his own cynical nonchalance. He was never one to shy away from an opinion. And I always valued his opinions. The son of a Memphis judge, Alex was a self-educated man his whole life after quitting school to go on the road with The Box Tops at age 16. I once caught him playing Bach on my piano while we were screwing around during a soundcheck. He had memorized some pieces and was slowly working them out. A few months later I heard him playing a different Bach piece on a guitar in a dressing room. It got me thinking about improving my own playing, and so way back in 2001 I started seriously working on Bach’s music. Slowly learning the fingering, then memorizing one piece after another in the two books of the Well Tempered Clavier. Nine years later I’m still at it but almost through. I credit Alex for, among many other things, leading me to J.S.Bach.

Alex was bright, perceptive, cynical, opinionated, quick-witted and friendly; and he was equipped with a BS detector shield that people sometimes mistook for callousness or even meanness. He was not mean. But he was fiercely unlike anyone you’ve ever met. He unashamedly lived rock and roll.

Today, it seems an era has come to an end. Very, very sad.

Barry Walsh

Here's one of my favorite pictures of Alex. He's in mid-flight, onstage in Cleveland, Ohio at the Beechland Ballroom in March, 2007. The picture was shot by my then 19 year old son Brennan. RIP and godspeed, Alex. You were one of the good guys.

“A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”
– Thomas Mann

tools of the trade

In a theoretical sense, writing seems easy. I’ve done it my whole life, with not insignificant success. Virtually everyone has written something – a love letter, an email, a journal entry. So why should the act of stringing words together be that hard? It’s only when you get down in the dirt with the specters of doubt, ego and self-judgment that things get complicated. What about this word? This line? This song? Do I know what I’m doing? Did I ever?

It isn’t even so much the difficulty of the writing itself, although that can be pure hell; it’s the transition between the outer world and the inner one that’s tortuous. When I was a kid, being interrupted in the act of play was so awful as to be nearly physically painful. The sensation of being ripped from one world and set down in another was almost unbearable. And writing is not so different from child’s play – the fluidity, the intensity, the sense of separateness from the usual structures of time. Coming off the road and going into the writing room is a huge change of atmosphere, enough to give a person the bends. It’s hard to go in, and it hurts to come out.

But when it goes well, it’s better than anything. For me there is never (or at least very rarely) certain knowledge that I’ve written something very good; it’s more of a sneaking suspicion, but one I’ve learned to listen to more intently as I’ve grown older. Ultimately, though, it’s not until the song exists in the air, and reaches other ears than mine, that it lives (and sometimes dies). I’ve still got a lot of writing to do before another album begins to take shape. But I can’t wait to bring these new songs to your ears.

Up for auction
New York Women in Film & Television is auctioning me off! The New York branch of the Women In Film organization is auctioning off a great package this spring. The winner will receive two tickets to my show in London at the Tabernacle on May 19th, two VIP backstage passes and a handwritten, autographed lyric to the song of your choice (assuming, that is, that I wrote it). Bidding will begin soon at Charity Buzz. When we get the link to the auction we’ll send out a special bulletin. More info on NYWIFT below:

The preeminent entertainment industry association for women in New York City, New York Women in Film & Television (NYWIFT) champions women calling the shots in film, television and digital media. NYWIFT energizes the careers of women in entertainment by illuminating their achievements, providing training and professional development activities and advocating for equity. Membership includes more than 2,000 women and men working both above and below the line. NYWIFT is part of a network of 40 women in film organizations worldwide, representing more than 10,000 members.

A sweet Valentine
Voting has ended for the The Alternate Root’s Valentine Sampler, and “The Way You Move Me” has made the final cut. The complete sampler, with cover art, can be downloaded from The Alternate Root website now. Thanks for voting!

A couple of fringe benefits
The benefit for Planned Parenthood of Middle & East Tennessee which did not take place due to the Great Nashville Snowstorm of 2010 has been rescheduled for March 25. The one and only Marshall Chapman will be joining me. Marshall is a singer-songwriter, an author and soon to be a movie star. She has a prominent role in the upcoming film “Love Don’t Let Me Down” starring Gwyneth Paltrow. Marshall plays Gwyneth’s road manager. Anyone who knows Marshall would want her for a road manager, for the stories, if nothing else.

I’m also happy to announce a new benefit, The Stars Go Blue for Colon Cancer, featuring Rodney Crowell, Peter Cooper & Mike Reid and myself along with Barry Walsh. The whole thing takes place at 7PM on March 23rd at the Loveless Barn.

********
Wine Women & Song news

Matraca, Suzy and I recently spent an afternoon hanging around with Amanda Holden (Britain’s Got Talent); UK residents can view a replay of our appearance on the show Amanda Holden’s Fantasy Lives here. We opened a bottle of wine with her and dished about Nashville, country music and other stuff. We are about 5 minutes into the show; don’t blink!

Respected country music blog The 9513 was in Decatur, GA at our most recent show and graced us with this wonderful review.

Thanks guys, we love you too!

UK Tour
We have been getting a LOT of emails regarding the “Circus Girl – Without A Net” tour. The tour is nearly 100% confirmed – just a few loose ends to tie up. Please keep checking the Tours page for new dates if you don’t see a show in your area. As you may already know, this is going to be an all-request tour – we’re building the set list from your favorite songs. On April 1 (no fooling) we’ll start taking requests via email, Twitter, Facebook and in the forum at www.gretchenpeters.com. I’d love to hear not only your requests, but a personal anecdote, reminiscence or just your thoughts on the song you want to hear most. We are really excited to be including a new visual component to this tour – more about that next month.

The Official press release:
In celebration of the release of Circus Girl: The Best Of Gretchen Peters, Peters will be embarking on her first-ever “all request” tour in 2010. The intimate show will encompass and highlight her entire body of work and feature the stories behind the songs, personal anecdotes and glimpses behind the scenes of her 20+ year career. The set list (composed entirely of requests by fans via email, Twitter, Facebook and Peters’ website) will doubtless include fan favorites such as “On A Bus To St. Cloud” and “Sunday Morning (Up and Down My Street)” as well as more obscure selections from the Deluxe Limited Edition of Circus Girl, which contains 16 tracks of rarities and previously unreleased songs. The “Circus Girl – Without A Net Tour” opens in the UK in May 2010.

New photos
We have posted a bunch of new photos in the Gallery, so if you haven’t visited in awhile come check them out. By popular request, we have brought back the “Fan Photos” album. We encourage you to send in your photos from after the show, but only if we both look fabulous or you’re great with Photoshop!

we love fan photos

Download of the Month
This month’s download is a change of pace from the live tracks we’ve been posting. Since I’ve been spending most of my time writing, I thought I’d share this audio segment from an interview with Pat Geary from Voice Of Country, done in 2004 during the press run for “Halcyon”. We talked about co-writing, the need for solitude, and the rewards and pitfalls of “confessional” songwriting.

x

Gretchen

“Although the world is full of suffering,

it is full also of the overcoming of it.”
- Helen Keller

songs for Haiti

Songs for Haiti
The horrific situation in Haiti has been on everyone’s hearts and minds. If you would like to help out and receive some free music at the same time, check out Paste Magazine’s Songs for Haiti. I’ve donated an exclusive live track which you can download by going to the Paste website. At the time of this writing there were more than 350 tracks available for download – all you have to do is make a donation of any size.

Wine! Women! Song!

Wine, Women & Song at the Sage - this month's download!

I’m so excited to be back on the road with my sisters in song, Suzy Bogguss and Matraca Berg. This February will bring 2 rare U.S. Wine, Women & Song shows – We’ll be up in Columbus, OH at Columbus Maennerchor* on February 6th, and at Eddie’s Attic** in Decatur, GA on February 24th. There are no other US WW&S shows on the books as of this writing, so if you’re near either Columbus or Atlanta, make plans to come see us.
*Tickets for the Columbus show can be purchased by emailing Alec Wightman or phoning 614-296-5006.
**Tables at Eddie’s Attic are sold out, but general admission tickets still remain – you can purchase them at Eddie’s website.
See the Tour Page for all details.

Our Glamorous Fantasy Lives
Matraca, Suzy and I spent an afternoon hanging around with Amanda Holden of “Britain’s Got Talent” last year, and we’re going to be on her new ITV show “Fantasy Lives” next Tuesday, February 9 at 9PM GMT. Amanda came to Nashville to “uncover the hard work, day to day reality and grit that lies beneath the glamorous public face” of a country singer. We opened a bottle of wine with her and dished. If you’re in the UK tune in a week from Tuesday!

Circus Girl – Without A Net!
Dates are being confirmed for a very special UK Tour coming this May – the “Without A Net” tour. Shows have already been confirmed for London, Cambridge, Derby, Bilston, Wavendon and Selby. We’ll make all the dates available on the website as soon as possible. Here’s the press release:
In celebration of the release of Circus Girl: The Best Of Gretchen Peters, Peters will be embarking on her first-ever “all request” tour in 2010. The intimate show will encompass and highlight her entire body of work and feature the stories behind the songs, personal anecdotes and glimpses behind the scenes of her 20+ year career. The set list (composed entirely of requests by fans via email, Twitter, Facebook and Peters’ website) will doubtless include fan favorites such as “On A Bus To St. Cloud” and “Sunday Morning (Up and Down My Street)” as well as more obscure selections from the Deluxe Limited Edition of Circus Girl, which contains 16 tracks of rarities and previously unreleased songs. The “Circus Girl – Without A Net Tour” opens in the UK in May 2010.

Janis, Craig, Tony and me

Janis Ian, Barry Walsh & me at the Bluebird Cafe

I’ll be reuniting with Janis Ian, Craig Carothers and Tony Arata at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, TN on Feb. 20 for another in-the-round performance. If you’re in Nashville come see us – but be sure to make reservations early as this one always sells out in a hurry! Tickets go on sale one week before the performance and must be purchased online at the Bluebird website.

Download of the Month
In honor of the upcoming Wine, Women & Song shows this month, February’s download is a live recording of Suzy, Matraca and myself at one of my favorite venues in the world – The Sage in Gateshead, UK. The track was recorded on May 30, 2009 during the last WW&S UK Tour. Visit the Download page to get February’s free download. Enjoy!

x

G

“It is the best of all trades, to make songs,
and the second best to sing them.”

– Hilaire Beloc

One of my former writing rooms, and a favorite piano

I came across this quote while watching Clint Eastwood’s recent documentary on Johnny Mercer, who is probably my favorite of the “Great American Songbook” writers. Mercer wrote, among other things, “One For My Baby (And One More For The Road)”, “Moon River”, and “Laura”. He had a sense of the vernacular in a way that other lyricists of his time didn’t – maybe it was his southern roots, his youth spent immersed in the black music of Savannah, Georgia, or maybe he just had the gift. Johnny Mercer was also a damn good singer, and I think that being a singer can’t help but influence you as a lyricist. Oftentimes in the process of writing I favor the line that “sings the best”, because ultimately it’s the singer (me) who has to deliver it.

Singing and songwriting have been on my mind lately, as I’m looking ahead to spending a healthy chunk of the winter of 2010 writing new songs. Last year was a whirlwind: 97 shows, 137 days on the road, and a lot of new friends and fans (for all the highlights, check out the new video, noted below). But it’s time to get back to my other job – writing. The reaction to the new song “Woman On The Wheel”, which we opened most of our late 2009 shows with, was so overwhelmingly enthusiastic that I feel pretty good about facing the blank page (check with me when I’m three days in and haven’t come up with a thing!). But whether I’m coming home from a marathon tour like the one we just finished, or looking ahead to a long (and sometimes lonely) stretch of writing, I still feel I have the best two jobs in the world.

That’s not to say that we won’t be on the road in 2010 – there are a few dates on the website already and a lot more in the works. Hope we see you out there.

Chat Time!

  1. Laura217, whom many of you know from our forum, created a chat room for last year’s Circus Girl webcast back in August of 2009. It was such a success that we’ve decided to try another chat, only this time I’m going to be in the chat room too, instead of on the stage. Laura has organized the live chat at her fansite for January 9th. I’ll be there to answer questions, let you know how the songwriting is coming, quash rumors (and start some!), and find out how you are all doing. We’ll start at 3PM Central US time, so as to allow for our friends in the UK and Europe to participate. Pull up a chair, make a cup of tea and come chat with us at Laura’s site on Saturday Jan. 9th – see you there!

 

Minton Sparks, Marshall Chapman and I will be in Nashville on January 30

An Evening of Stories & Storytellers

Last year I hosted a benefit here in Nashville for Planned Parenthood of Middle & East Tennessee. My guest that night was the incredible Janis Ian, who wowed the sold-out crowd and made the whole event really special. The folks at Planned Parenthood were thrilled and wanted to do it again. My challenge was to organize a line-up that would be equally special. Thank goodness I have some pretty amazing friends! This year, on January 30th, we’ll be presenting an Evening of Stories & Storytellers with my friends Minton Sparks and Marshall Chapman. Minton is a mesmerizing performer, a spoken word artist, a poet, and a brilliant and wise soul. Marshall is an incorrigible wit, an author, songwriter, guitar slinger and singer, and an unrepentant rocker. These are two formidable women. The three of us will be performing at the Rutledge in Nashville at 8PM. Tickets and information are available at Planned Parenthood of Middle and East TN.

Ribbon Of Highway, Endless Skyway

Woody Guthrie’s songs were among the first songs I learned as a child. On long family road trips we’d sing “This Land Is Your Land”, “Union Maid” and “Car Song” until our ears rang. But I never heard them in quite the same way after I participated in my first Ribbon Of Highway show. This is a truly thought-provoking and moving evening – and it’s also immensely entertaining. Drawn from not only his songs, but his written words, the show is a celebration of Woody’s body of work. We’ll be at the Washington Center for the Performing Arts in Olympia, WA on January 15. The cast includes ROH founder Jimmy LaFave, Michael Fracasso, Joel Rafael and Ray Bonneville and myself.

THEIR Best of 2009

I’m thrilled and proud that the album that started out as a little side-project, One To The Heart, One To The Head, has appeared on quite a few Best of 2009 lists. In no particular order, here are a few of the best:

And finally, OTTH, OTTH made the 9513‘s list of most overlooked albums of 2009. Overlooked? Not by you guys!

OUR Best of 2009

It wasn’t easy to pack all the highlights of last year into 10 minutes of film, but I tried. Watch this video to see how we spent our 2009. You never know, you may be in the video!

 

Wine, Women & Song: Suzy Bogguss, Gretchen Peters & Matraca Berg

Wine, Women & Song – on THIS side of the pond!

My soul sisters, Matraca Berg and Suzy Bogguss, and I will be doing two shows here in the US in February. We are so excited to bring this show to some of you in the States. We’re working on other dates, but for now those of you who are determined to see Wine, Women & Song may want to consider a road trip. Or if you’re lucky enough to live in Atlanta, GA or Columbus, OH, we’ll be right in your back yard.

Wine, Women & Song (Gretchen Peters, Matraca Berg & Suzy Bogguss) in concert:

February 6 – Columbus Maennerchor (Columbus, OH)

for tickets email Alec Wightman or phone 614-296-5006

February 24 – Eddie’s Attic (Decatur, GA)

for tickets visit Eddie’s Attic

What’s an RSS?

Just a reminder – one of the cool features of the new website is the RSS feed. You can sign up for the RSS feed at gretchenpeters.com – just click on the News link and read all about it. If you’re not sure what RSS is or why you’d want it, you can find out here.

Download of the Month

This month’s download is “On A Bus To St. Cloud,” recorded at Daniels Hall, Swallow Hill Music Association in Denver, Colorado one frosty February evening in 2009. Download the song at my website.

I hope 2010 brings you joy.

x
G

Tomorrow starts Christmas week and I am going to take some much-needed time away from music, touring, websites and the rest to take a deep breath, relax and reflect on the 12 months that have just flown by. I love this time of year, but it’s easy to lose the peace in the midst of the hustle.
Before I start wrapping presents and watching A Charlie Brown Christmas, as my holiday gift to you, I present my grandmother Adele (Mohr) Klein’s recipe for Gingerbread – I promise you this stuff is incredible and will fill your house with the very essence of Christmas. I just pulled these two out of the oven an hour ago:

Hot Water Gingerbread

Every year Gram reminded me that we were related, through her side of the family, to Joseph Mohr, who wrote “Silent Night”. The story goes that the organ in the church broke down on Christmas Eve, and forced Mohr and Franz Gruber, the organist, to perform this carol for the first time with only a guitar for accompaniment. Whether or not it’s true, I love that story. And I like to think I come by my songwriting ability partly because of Joseph. When it came time to make the Northern Lights album, there wasn’t any question that “Silent Night” would be on the track list. You can download my version of it here, for free.

Merry Christmas, and a very happy New Year.

x
G

Hot Water Gingerbread

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup blackstrap molasses
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 cups boiling water
2 eggs
3 cups flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking powder

Beat all ingredients together with electric beater. Bake @ 350° in two square pans or one oblong pan for 45 minutes or until knife comes clean.

The month-long marathon European Tour of 2009 is history. We started out in Northern Ireland after a short but miserable flight from Newark. The airlines are the new Greyhound buses. Enough said. Got through passport control/customs in record time and got our rental car – we decided we’d drive ourselves throughout Ireland for the first 10 days. Sounded like fun at the time – but I soon had second thoughts. The rearview mirror looks impossibly wrong. The danger of scraping the car on the lefthand-side curb (because of depth perception issues) is surpassed only by the danger of having a head-on collision due to a minor lapse in judgment. Still, we (and the people of Northern Ireland) managed to survive. We played a series of beautiful, state-of-the-art concert halls with fabulous sound and great crew. Our saving grace was our merch guy/soundman Brendan Donnelly, who saw to every last detail and made us sound great. We were buoyed by an incredible audience in Belfast, revisited the sweet little Bronte Church in Rathfriland, got lost on one-lane roads that looked like little more than sheep trails, had a wonderful 24 hours in Dublin where we visited friends at RTE Radio, had a great Italian dinner on Dame Street and took a stroll down in Temple Bar afterwards.

In Rathfriland, we began a stretch of dates which we found ourselves calling “The 14” – 14 shows in 14 dates, over 3 countries. We’d been in denial, but now it was crunch time. We paced ourselves through five Northern Irish dates, then flew to Heathrow and played Buckingham that very night. Our tour manager/merch man/nanny, Paul Sawyer kept us on the right (left) side of the road while we absolutely flew through England. Hotel/venue/hotel/van/hotel/rinse/repeat. We raced through six great English shows including especially magical nights in Maidstone, Bath and Stockton-On-Tees. How lucky are we to see so many familiar faces again, meet some new ones, and play to packed houses every night!  After a very rainy stay in Bath, we were off to Amsterdam to finish “the 14” with a show that night in Lage Vuursche and two more before a blessed and much-anticipated day off. In Lage Vuursche I was presented with a birthday cake, a bottle of champagne and 160 Dutch people serenading me with “Lang Zal Ze Leven”, the Dutch birthday song. I had a good excuse – it was my birthday. Can’t think of a better way to spend it.

The last night of “the 14”, we played in Eindhoven. Thanks to a tip from George, one of our New York fans who travels there regularly, we booked a dinner table at Antonio’s restaurant nearby and had an amazing meal – the best of the tour so far. That would have been enough, but Muziekcentrum Frits Philips turned out to be our new favorite venue in Holland – a gorgeous theater with pristine sound and a nine foot Steinway piano. We had a great crowd – where did all these people come from? – and sailed through the last night of the 14.

We spent our first day off in 2 weeks in Den Haag, where we stayed with our hosts Lenny & Hein in their gorgeous house near “the Fred” (Frederik Hendrikslaan) – a major shopping street. We savored every minute – lingered in a cafe over cappuccino with the cafe’s resident dog, Sam; shopped in a great bookstore; walked to the harbor, and generally lazed around. Lenny had prepared a fabulous rijsttafel and that evening we were treated to a great dinner party with lots of wine, lots of food and lots of fun. So much for being good.

While in the Netherlands we played three shows with our old friend John Lester on upright bass, which was great fun and added some class (and bottom end) to the whole affair. The Dutch dates were all in wildly different venues but with uniformly sweet and enthusiastic audiences. It was also very gratifying to see how the audience size had grown since last time – it’s nice to know you’re making some sort of impression. The One To The Heart, One To The Head album has been very popular in Holland, so we added in some more songs from it, including “If I Had A Gun” and “Snowin’ On Raton”. In many cases there was “recognition applause” at the beginning of the songs, even though we were mostly playing in cities where we’d never been. Amazing to feel the impact an album can have before you even get the chance to introduce it personally.

The very last show of the tour was Bush Hall in London, and between Barry and me, we thought it was the very best. I guess after 22 you find your rhythm. We had a packed-out room, a grand piano, a very demonstrative audience (especially for London!), and great sound. What more can you ask? See you in May!

The month-long marathon European Tour of 2009 is history. We started out in Northern Ireland after a short but miserable flight from Newark. The airlines are the new Greyhound buses. Enough said. Got through passport control/customs in record time and got our rental car – we decided we’d drive ourselves throughout Ireland for the first 10 days. Sounded like fun at the time – but I soon had second thoughts. The rearview mirror looks impossibly wrong. The danger of scraping the car on the lefthand-side curb (because of depth perception issues) is surpassed only by the danger of having a head-on collision due to a minor lapse in judgment. Still, we (and the people of Northern Ireland) managed to survive. We played a series of beautiful, state-of-the-art concert halls with fabulous sound and great crew. Our saving grace was our merch guy/soundman Brendan Donnelly, who saw to every last detail and made us sound great. We were buoyed by an incredible audience in Belfast, revisited the sweet little Bronte Church in Rathfriland, got lost on one-lane roads that looked like little more than sheep trails, had a wonderful 24 hours in Dublin where we visited friends at RTE Radio, had a great Italian dinner on Dame Street and took a stroll down in Temple Bar afterwards.

Barry Walsh, driving on the left-hand side
Barry Walsh, driving on the left-hand side

In Rathfriland, we began a stretch of dates which we found ourselves calling “The 14” – 14 shows in 14 dates, over 3 countries. We’d been in denial, but now it was crunch time. We paced ourselves through five Northern Irish dates, then flew to Heathrow and played Buckingham that very night. Our tour manager/merch man/nanny, Paul Sawyer kept us on the right (left) side of the road while we absolutely flew through England. Hotel/venue/hotel/van/hotel/rinse/repeat. We raced through six great English shows including especially magical nights in Maidstone, Bath and Stockton-On-Tees. How lucky are we to see so many familiar faces again, meet some new ones, and play to packed houses every night!  After a very rainy stay in Bath, we were off to Amsterdam to finish “the 14” with a show that night in Lage Vuursche and two more before a blessed and much-anticipated day off. In Lage Vuursche I was presented with a birthday cake, a bottle of champagne and 160 Dutch people serenading me with “Lang Zal Ze Leven”, the Dutch birthday song. I had a good excuse – it was my birthday. Can’t think of a better way to spend it.

The last night of “the 14”, we played in Eindhoven. Thanks to a tip from George, one of our New York fans who travels there regularly, we booked a dinner table at Antonio’s restaurant nearby and had an amazing meal – the best of the tour so far. That would have been enough, but Muziekcentrum Frits Philips turned out to be our new favorite venue in Holland – a gorgeous theater with pristine sound and a nine foot Steinway piano. We had a great crowd – where did all these people come from? – and sailed through the last night of the 14.

We spent our first day off in 2 weeks in Den Haag, where we stayed with our hosts Lenny & Hein in their gorgeous house near “the Fred” (Frederik Hendrikslaan) – a major shopping street. We savored every minute – lingered in a cafe over cappuccino with the cafe’s resident dog, Sam; shopped in a great bookstore; walked to the harbor, and generally lazed around. Lenny had prepared a fabulous rijsttafel and that evening we were treated to a great dinner party with lots of wine, lots of food and lots of fun. So much for being good.

rijsttafel in Den Haag
rijsttafel in Den Haag

While in the Netherlands we played three shows with our old friend John Lester on upright bass, which was great fun and added some class (and bottom end) to the whole affair. The Dutch dates were all in wildly different venues but with uniformly sweet and enthusiastic audiences. It was also very gratifying to see how the audience size had grown since last time – it’s nice to know you’re making some sort of impression. The One To The Heart, One To The Head album has been very popular in Holland, so we added in some more songs from it, including “If I Had A Gun” and “Snowin’ On Raton”. In many cases there was “recognition applause” at the beginning of the songs, even though we were mostly playing in cities where we’d never been. Amazing to feel the impact an album can have before you even get the chance to introduce it personally.

The very last show of the tour was Bush Hall in London, and between Barry and me, we thought it was the very best. I guess after 22 you find your rhythm. We had a packed-out room, a grand piano, a very demonstrative audience (especially for London!), and great sound. What more can you ask? See you in May!

flying through England
flying through England

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G

Here’s what you’ve been listening to before the show:

Lost, Night – Bill Frisell (from his wonderful Disfarmer album)

That’s Alright, Mama – Bill Frisell

King of the Road – Rufus Wainright & Teddy Thompson

Blackberry Winters – David Mead

Streets Of Baltimore – Gram Parsons

I Feel A Change Comin’ On – Bob Dylan

Almost And Always – David Mead

American Dirt – Matthew Ryan

Sicily – David Mead

They Were Wrong – Matthew Ryan

The Last DJ – Tom Petty

I Only Want To Be The Man You Love – Matthew Ryan

Sleeping In Saturday – David Mead

It Could’ve Been Worse – Matthew Ryan

Little Boats – David Mead

Disfarmer Theme – Bill Frisell

“You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.”

– G.K. Chesterton

We’re in the midst of a long stretch of touring, including the longest European tour we’ve ever done. It’s been a little daunting, thinking about being gone for a solid month. We’ll be spending Halloween in Northern Ireland, my birthday in the Netherlands, and Thanksgiving recuperating from the inevitable slings and arrows of a month on the road. But this November I will be giving thanks for things too numerous to count. I have had an amazing year in a several-years-long run of them – the opportunity to play music for more of you than ever before; some utterly inspiring and surprising collaborations with artists whose work I love, the recognition of my peers for music I’m proud of, the opportunity to travel to my heart’s content, and the creative (and yes, sometimes exhausting) life I get to live, because of you. I am not overstating the case when I say I am grateful every single day. Thank you for coming to the shows, buying the CDs, listening to the words, believing in the songs.
new gretchenpeters.com website
new gretchenpeters.com website

New website: At the time of this writing we’re days away from launching the brand new www.gretchenpeters.com website. If you’re surfing the web and see something that looks like the photo above, stay awhile and have a look around! Please bear with us (and let us know) if you encounter any glitches – this has been a major overhaul. Many thanks to Laura217, who has taken on the huge task of archiving the old message board from the old website on her fan site, so all those discussions will live on in cyberspace. Thanks for all the hard work, Laura.

Bandaged Together: I’m thrilled to be included on the new Bandaged Together CD, a compilation for the UK charity Children In Need. I recorded the classic Disney song “When You Wish Upon A Star”, by Ned Washington and
Leigh Harline, with some amazing playing by Viktor Krauss on bass, Barry Walsh on glockenspiel, and Christine Bougie on lap steel. The CD can be ordered here beginning on 9 November. £6.50 from the sale of each CD will benefit The BBC Children in Need Appeal. Many thanks to Terry Wogan, Hellen Bach and Norman Macintosh for making it happen.

Northern Lights: “For those who won’t trade musical acumen for holiday spirit” says the LA Times. USA Today calls it “stark and lovely”. The folks at Just Plain Folks voted it the Holiday album of the year. If you’re more about “Bleak Midwinter” and less about “Jingle Bells”, this is probably the Christmas album for you. CDs and downloads can be had at the website.

The Cowboy Train video: video highlights from the Cowboy Train can now be seen here. Now aren’t you sorry you missed it?

Boo! a little Halloween haunting for you, in case you missed it the first time around:

Legendary (and badass) women of folk: After our show in San Diego with the wonderful Cheryl Wheeler, we knew once wasn’t enough. So we’ll be making another trip back to Colorado in December to do three shows with Cheryl – one at the Sunset Events Center in Fort Collins, and two back-to-back nights in Denver at the venerable Swallow Hill Music Association.
After that, we’ll be winding up the year with three dates with our dear friend Janis Ian on December 11-13. We’ll all be appearing at the Kent Stage in Kent, OH; The Ark in Ann Arbor, MI and the Wilmette Theater in Wilmette, IL, in that order. Shows with Janis are always a lot of fun – everyone knows she’s an incredible (and legendary) singer-songwriter, but she also happens to be a phenomenal guitar player. Lucky for us she loves to sit in with us!

Chat Time: Laura 217 has offered to host a chat on her fan site, and we’ve set a tentative date of Saturday, January 9. In order to include everyone from both sides of the Atlantic, we’ll time the online chat for early afternoon here in Nashville, early evening in the UK and Europe. More details as we get closer to the date – start saving up your questions!

Download Of The Month: This month’s download is “Mother”, recorded this past October live at Turner Hall in Mt. Olive, Illinois (final resting place of Mother Jones, the subject of the song, and perhaps the most badass woman of all-time). You can download it at gretchenpeters.com beginning on November 1.

Upcoming Shows:
Oct 31, 2009 – Newry, NI (UK) @ Sean Hollywood Arts Centre w/ Cara Dillon
Nov 3, 2009 – Rathfriland, NI (UK) @ Bronte Church – Bronte Music Club – Buy Tickets
Nov 4, 2009 – Belfast, NI (UK) @ Errigle Inn – Real Music Club – Buy Tickets
Nov 5, 2009 – Enniskillen, NI (UK) @ Ardhowen Theatre w/ Cara Dillon – Buy Tickets
Nov 6, 2009 – Coleraine, NI (UK) @ Riverside Theatre w/ Cara Dillon – Buy Tickets
Nov 7, 2009 – Derry, NI (UK) @ Millennium Forum w/ Cara Dillon – Buy Tickets
Nov 8, 2009 – Buckingham, ML (UK) @ Old Town Hall – Buy Tickets
Nov 9, 2009 – Maidstone, LO (UK) @ The Exchange – Buy Tickets
Nov 10, 2009 – Stockton on Tees, NE (UK) @ The Arc – Buy Tickets
Nov 11, 2009 – Kendal, NW (UK) @ Bootleggers Music Bar – Buy Tickets
Nov 12, 2009 – Bury, NW (UK) @ The Met – Buy Tickets
Nov 13, 2009 – Bath, SW (UK) @ Chapel Arts Centre – Buy Tickets
Nov 14, 2009 – Lage Vuursche, (NL) @ In The Woods – Buy Tickets
Nov 15, 2009 – Ottersum, (NL) @ C.C. Roepaen – Buy Tickets
Nov 16, 2009 – Eindhoven, (NL) @ Meneer Frits – Buy Tickets
Nov 18, 2009 – Oentsjerk, (NL) @ Folk in de Walden – Buy Tickets
Nov 19, 2009 – The Hague, (NL) @ Transvaria – Buy Tickets
Nov 20, 2009 – Spijkerboor, (NL) @ Cafe’t Keerpunt – Buy Tickets
Nov 22, 2009 – London, LO (UK) @ Bush Hall – Buy Tickets