I know it's been a while. Really, I do my best, but the time just gets away from me. I've been trying to keep up with my Facebook page (much as I don't like Facebook, it is stupidly easy to deal with, especially while traveling), posting a quote every night and trying to "friend" as many strangers as I can so I can have lots more people I don't know in my life...
Does anyone else notice that the economy seems to be improving? Cautious optimism says that after only one Living Room Concert in the past 28 months (thank you Judy Jance and Bill Schib!), I now have three booked. Merchandise sales, down almost 70% in 2009/2010, are edging back up. Friends who've lost their traditional 9-5 jobs seem to be locating other work that ultimately pleases the more. And while no one I know is getting rich, everyone seems to have enough.
I had a productive few months - spent some time with new friend Kevin Eubanks at his amazing new home in Cambria. Yes, I had my own private bed & bath, overlooking the Pacific - and yes, we started a few things with an eye toward both his and my next album projects - but the real icing on the cake was just sitting around, listening to Kevin play. Sheesh! Made me feel like a beginner!!
From there, straight into rehearsals with Natalia Zukerman, with a side dinner of sushi (in preparation) with old friends Chris Valada, Len Wein, and Bill Prady, fresh from a brand new contract for his show Big Bang Theory. Needless to say, Bill bought dinner....
Len, by the way, made up one of my all-time favorite quotes: A true friend is someone who is there for you when he'd rather be anywhere else. So true, so true.
We landed in Osaka and had three gorgeous days off to recover and rehearse, then plunged straight into the Billboard Live shows. I have to say, their clubs are still the most beautiful I've ever played, and the tech crews are unbelievably good. What a joy when everything works!! I was doubly spoiled because, while regular tour manager Debra Hyslop couldn't come (she's waiting on her green card, and can't leave the US until she gets it. It's only been three years... they estimate another four or five... ridiculous, really...), her replacement was John Mooy. In addition to being a fabulous TM, John is also a guitar tech - which means for 10 shows, I never changed a set of strings!
Spoiled is right!
One of my favorite things to do in Japan is walk around the markets, trying to figure out what things are. "Fog Bar", for instance. Or the ingredients on this menu. We ate shabu-shabu, sushi, sashimi, and anything else we could get our mouths around - with the exception of this...
The capper of the trip was when my dear friend Angela Aki joined us on stage for the last night in Tokyo, and we all sang "Every Woman's Song" with her. What an unforgettable send-off!
One of the things I love about Japan is the attitude toward age. Since I'm turning 60 this April 7th, a lot of people gave me good wishes - and I heard over and over again that for the Japanese, 60 is not "old". Rather, it's the beginning of a new cycle. My old friend Reiko Yukawa stressed this at our traditional catch-up lunch, and I'm not going to pretend that it didn't make me feel really good about maturing. (As it were...)
Well. I need to get packing - Pat and I are headed off on vacation next week!! I have a two-day turnaround when we get back, then Debra, Lee and I clamber into the Queen Mary and head out on the road. We'll be gone until May, hitting half the country - from Colorado to Vermont to Florida. Phew. I'm tired just thinking about it. A few new songs, a couple of guitar solos, a bunch of dates with Natalia and the incredible Tom Paxton - then we'll quiet down so I can get some writing done this summer! I'll be hitting the Swannanoa Gathering late July, then preparing for my upcoming Europe/UK tour this fall. All in all, another busy year.
Much as I love performing, I'm beginning to feel like that's all I do in life, so I'm carving out large chunks of time in 2012 for writing, with an eye toward some future recording projects. I also want to continue my short story writing, at least long enough to decide whether I'll ever be any good at it! And the older I get, the more I realize how much I miss being home when I can't be there. They don't say "Home is where the heart is" for nothing!
On that happy note, hope everyone had a great Valentine's Day. Have a wonderful spring, and I'll talk to you when I can!
Free download of "Swannanoa."
A new song, in honor of the Swannanoa Gathering's 25th anniversary! Says Janis: "A writer is always influenced by what she hears around her. This will be my third visit to Swannanoa Gathering. There's something lonesome in the air, some sense of longing in the hills, that always strikes me when I arrive - and pains me when I leave.” Visit the Free Downloads page to download this song and many others.
Items On Sale
We just put 3 double-CD sets on sale in the Janis Ian Shopping Mall! Best of Janis Ian, Remember: Live '77, and Working Without A Net are all on sale right now at very low prices. AND we found a box of the DVD Live From Grand Center, so that's on sale too! Of course, the poetry audio book, Who Really Cares is also on sale.
Who Really Cares Audiobook Now Available!
On sale right now in the Shopping Mall. Originally published in 1969, Who Really Cares began as a collection of the poems Janis had been writing since the age of seven. The book was later expanded with 10 previously unpublished poems that had been rejected by the original publisher, and a new poem. Janis took the opportunity afforded by her winning a Spoken Word Grammy to create this audiobook.