The 40th National Women’s Music Festival, 2015: there were angels, right?

National logoI don’t usually start hallucinating until midway through the National Women’s Music Festival. I don’t do hallucinogens but lack of sleep does weird things to a body and I’m like a little kid – I’m afraid to sleep for fear I’ll miss something. And this was the fortieth anniversary, so there were a lot of special things going on. So, there I was at the Marriott in Middleton, WI (Madison) on that first day, July 2, a chorus of angels singing, trumpets sounding, chocolate fountains merrily spouting, and women everywhere. Okay, so only the latter was true. Before I even made it to the front desk, I’d hugged 47 women. I stood in the line at the desk to check in. A woman ahead of me turned around and with a warm smile exclaimed, “Hi Jamie!” Holly Near. Dang! I was looking forward to hearing her as well as the rest of the stellar line-up and I’m not just saying that because they had the good taste to book me. Continue reading

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Dianne Davidson, Deidre McCalla and Jamie Anderson: definitely not dead.


Because I write a lot about women’s music, I get questions about musicians that usually start with, “What ever happened to ________, uh, she’s not dead, is she?” So, when I asked Dianne Davidson to do a show with me last summer in North Carolina, I thought it’d be fun to call it “We aren’t dead yet.” She had recently moved to the triangle area (where I wanted to play) so I knew she was still breathing, I just wasn’t sure she was still playing. As it turned out, she’d been sidelined by a couple of auto accidents; she was also taking time off to raise her son. She took a day or two to decide, then said yes.  We thought we’d invite Deidre McCalla because she lives in Atlanta, an eight hour drive away. And while she wasn’t retired, she hadn’t been performing much. Since splitting a bill three ways meant we were each going to make a dollar fifty, I wasn’t sure she’d say yes but we got an enthusiastic affirmative from her. We were off to the races. Continue reading

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Sequins, prayer and bone rattling roller coasters. Visit to Dollywood May 2015

DollywoodI am the biggest Dolly Parton fan on the planet. I’ve passed the turnoff to go to Dollywood many times while on tour but was never able to go. That all changed recently when I met my mom and her husband for the thrill of a lifetime. I know, it seems weird for a feminist folksinger like me to go all gaga over someone known for sequined gowns and big hair. However, I’ve always admired her strength, intelligence and positive energy, not to mention the fact that she can sing the bejesus out of any song and write songs better than almost anyone I know. But I digress … come with me on my journey to Dollywood.  Continue reading

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Come for the food but stay for the music. Virginia Women’s Music Festival 2015.

I appreciate that many of the other women’s festivals feed you. Really. But the Virginia Women’s Music Festival offers fried chicken at dinner, and real half and half for your coffee in the morning. And homemade dessert with lunch and dinner. Lest you think vegetarians are left out – there was always a veggie entrée option. Oh yeah, and there’s the music. Lots of variety and lots of talent, from a drumming group to a dance band to soulful singer-songwriters. Continue reading

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So you want to write a song? Part two.

In last week’s post, guest blogger Bernice Lewis talked about writing lyrics. This week, I’m writing about melodies. It’s the part that makes some beginning songwriters flee in terror because they think you have to have a PhD in music. It ain’t true. Janis Joplin once said she didn’t write songs, she just made ‘em up. Here are some tips to make ‘em up. Continue reading

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So you want to write a song?

Bernice LewisThis week’s guest blogger is Bernice Lewis, a touring singer/songwriter  for 30 years who records for Berkalin Records. She is the Artist Associate in Songwriting at Williams College in Williamstown, MA.


How hard could writing a song be?  Maybe you want to surprise a loved one, or maybe there’s an idea that’s been burning in your mind for a long time.  You get out the notebook, your guitar, strum a few chords, but where to start? Continue reading

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The Michigan women’s festival is ending, now what?

Close up look at night stage entrance. Photo by MJ.

Close up look at night stage entrance. Photo by MJ.

There’s lots of “now what?” Like many of you, I’m sad about this cultural institution ending, but there’s still women’s community out there. Here’s a list. Study it. There will be a quiz later.

(If you want to know more about the festival and its end, there’s a great article here.) Continue reading

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