Saturday, October 18, 2008

You Can Buy My CD!

I have taken the leap! Go to my new blog to pre-order Emily Dunbar's debut CD. Pre-buying will help me generate the cash I need to make it happen. I even posted a (slightly cheesey) video of me playing Catch It When You can. Thanks for all of your kind responses to my survey question!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Survey Question (if anyone still checks my blog)

I'm sorry I don't write very often. I hope you still stop by and check sometimes.

Here is a senario for you, followed by a survey question.

Let's say I wanted to go to Texas at the end of January and record an album with Tom Prasado Rao and Cary Cooper at their studio, the Wildwood Tofu Bar so I could have an actual, honest-to-goodness studio album. But let's say I did not have the capital to put forth for this. Would you be willing to buy this CD now, pre-pay, $15 + $5 shipping now for a finished product I could probably send you in June?

I'm trying to figure out if this might be something I could actually do. Please let me know. If you don't like to post comments, email me, or facebook me. It's a thing others have done and I'm wondering if it might work for me.

Thanks, friends. I really will try and write something soon!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Song School Installment Three: Josh Ritter (now LONGER)

I've been listening to The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter rather obsessively for the past few weeks. I knew he would be at Song School and the RMFF so I wanted to be prepared. I had various songs by him on various mixes from Nate, but I wanted to really give him a listen. This just got me more excited.

As I said previously, Josh missed the first day of Song School due to flight problems. The second day, Tuesday, I wasn't sure if he was there. There had been no announcement and no one had said "Hey! There's Josh Ritter!" So at 1:30 I went to the Mountain Lion Tent where his session was supposed to be. I was the only one there. I decided not to move--to sit in faith that Josh Ritter would appear. A guy named Ken appeared and we discussed the chances of this deal actually going down. Ken decided to take action (good man!) and go ask somebody. There I sat, alone in the Mountain Lion Tent, when in walked Josh Ritter. I wasn't actually sure it was Josh Ritter. But I said, "Hi, I'm Emily" and he said, "Hi, I'm Josh Ritter." So, yes, no question about it...Josh Ritter. And there we were alone in the Mountain Lion Tent.

But as soon as people could see that there were people (me and Josh Ritter) in the Mountain Lion tent they began to come. I was afraid it would be huge, but it was only fifteen or so people. Let me just say, that Josh Ritter looks like he's 15--maybe 20. He was very nervous. He said had never taught anything before and was quite unsure what to expect from us or what we expected from him. He said he had a bottle of whiskey in his bag should worse come to worst. But we were very easy and he was great.

He had seven or eight principles of songwriting to share. Two that have really stuck with are 1) never use cliches and 2) mulch your ideas. Cliches are the easy way out. We should strive to say things--convey our ideas--craft words so perfectly that we create the new cliches. As songwriters we should be writing so beautifully that people will borrow our wording.

The mulching is a little harder to explain. Josh said that he rewrites and edits...well...a lot. He said he works with an idea for as long as he can until he is certain it simply isn't going to work and then he mulches it. He visualizes chopping off the idea and letting it drop to the floor. Then, all his future ideas, all his potential ideas eat it. They cannibalize it. It becomes mulch or compost and feeds his future ideas. It's the conservation of energy--nothing is lost. Even though it may be frustrating to strike a thought you have put a lot of thought or energy into, it isn't lost. It feeds your future ideas. Parts of it may emerge later in another form.

We talked for a long time. It was very conversational, very participatory. Then someone (Sarah Sample, I think) suggested he sing a song for us and then tell us about his songwriting process. He played The Temptation of Adam, Kathleen and a new one called Folk Bloodbath. It was awesome. He closed his eyes and smiled and sang his heart out right there in the tent for the 15 of us. Ahhhhhh.....

Nate wanted more details, so I thought I'd tack some on.

Regarding The Temptation of Adam, Josh said that he had been mulling over the concept of this song for some time. He had the story. He specifically had the ending in mind--"I look at the great red button and I'm tempted"--and had to work backwards to fill in the story/events that precede it. He did a lot of research about missle silos. It sounds like he reads a lot. I think he was speaking specifically of this song when he talked about his rewriting and editing process. He will write the same song over from multiple points of view, with different rhyme schemes, in differet meters until he finds what works best. I can't say that I've ever been that committed to a song--to keep rewriting it?!

Another thing he talked about, which I loved, was debunking the myth of "the artist." A person doesn't have to be mentally ill, or medicated, or wacky to be an artist. Josh admonished us to be healthy, go for a run, get a good night's sleep and go buy groceries--"you'll write better." He also said that crediting being an artist or crediting "genius" for great songs does everyone a great disservice. It devalues the work of the songwriter. Songwriting is a craft, not an art--through discipline and work songwriters hammer together words into songs. To say that someone writes good songs because they are an artist implies that songs magically appear. It implies lack of effort. It implies ease. It also implies that you have to be a certain type of person (ie: unhealthy, medicated, wacky, up all night, messy, difficult, etc--you know the stereotype) to create good work. That was affirming to a fairly straight-laced gal like myself. It is also great to think that I can improve. It's not some gift and you take it or leave it. It's a craft and you learn it and practice it and improve it.

Regarding "Kathleen," Josh mentioned something about getting into a fight at a Dunkin' Donuts and somehow that tied in to the writing of the song. I never quite made the connection, but it was funny to imagine him getting in a fight at Dunkin' Donuts.

Clearly, I'm all out of good details.

Song School Second Installment: Melissa Ferrick

I took a class with Paul Reisler called Directed Writing, which was great but sort of intense and structured. It was 2-1/2 hours three mornings in a row. Most classes just met once. Everyday there was a morning session, lunch and then two afternoon sessions and open mic in the evenings. After the first Reisler class I wanted something more loosey goosey. There was an afternoon session with Josh Ritter scheduled but his flights had been screwed up and he wasn't there yet. I saw "Creative Songwriting Group" with Melissa Ferrick. The schedule offered no descrition of what this entailed and that appealed to me.

I had heard Melissa Ferrick's name before but hadn't heard her music and hadn't seen her yet at Planet Bluegrass. So, I was walking into who-knows-what. I soon found that she is a gem. She is super skinny hipster with black hair and big black rimmed glasses. She spent most of the time sprawled out in the grass while the rest of us sat in chairs in a circle. Her tour manager Bubba was with her and he is a delightful and charming guy.

The class was nothing earth shattering. We did a brainstorm cluster on paper. We all started with the work rock and did a word web/diagram thing. After a few minutes, everyone had riffed on "rock" and had a page covered in words. Our next task was to take 15 minutes and freewrite, trying to connect words from opposite sides of the page. This was good fun. When came back and read aloud what we had written. Some of it nonsense. Some of it hilarious. Some of it genius and some of it intriguing and worth pursuing in further writing. The best thing was just Melissa's vibe. She is smart and funny and open. She'd point out what she thought were interesting phrases or ideas. The group was full of great people too. Everyone pitched in and discussed the writings of others. It was nice to do something immediate--talk about a process, jam through it, write and share. Invigorating. At the end, Melissa had us all commit to something off our page to write about it.

Then she played a few songs. And members in the class played songs and she offered suggestions and comments. It was a very fun, very relaxing hour or so. Just what the doctor ordered.

Melissa gave us her cell # and told us that if we did actually write a song to call her or find her so she could hear it. Or if we had questions or wanted help/input on anything, we should track her down--she was at Song School all week and didn't play the festival until Sunday, so she would be accessible. Very generous.

I had chosen to write a song based on a riff I got into about gold lamE. If I knew how to make an accent, that would be a lower case e with an accent--shiny metalic fabric. You know what I mean, right? The ideas bumbled around in my head. Over the course of the evening they started to take shape. In the morning I sat out with my coffee, my notebook and my guitar and wrote and wrote. I wrote and crossed out and wrote more. I went to class but gold lamE was rattling around in the background. I ate my lunch, scribbled in my notebook, and noodled on the guitar and by the time for the next class Gold LamE was mostly complete.

I knew Melissa was having class in the same tent as the day before, The Spider Tent near the main stage. So after my afternoon session--with Josh Ritter who finally showed up (more on JR in Installment Three)--I walked over to find her. I started to feel sheepish. Really? I'm really going to walk up and just play this song? But I had no reason to believe that Melissa was anything but geniune when she said to do so and my mantra for the week was "this is your one shot at this, so take it." So, I walked up and announced that I had a song to play. After some initial bumbling and trying to remember--my brain was filled with Josh Ritter songs--I played it.

Melissa and Bubba's reaction was beyond what I could have imagined. They loved it. They asked me to play it again. We talked about where the lyrics were a bit rough and threw around ideas for patching them up. Melissa said, basically, that she thought this song should be cut in Nashville...and did I know her good friend Lori McKenna? And when I got home my first order of buisness was to demo this song and email it to Melissa so she could pass it on to Lori and whoever else she thought might be able to help me.


Lori McKenna is a Boston songwriter. Faith Hill cut like five of her songs on her last album and Lori has been the opener for Faith's tour.

If the story ends here I can still die a happy woman. That sort of affirmation does not grow on trees, my friends, and the sentiment alone made my week. If actions follow and something...anything...whatever...happens as a result of this amazing moment in time, well it will be the icing.

The next day Bubba tracked me down with a new plan. He thought that waiting for me to demo the song might take a while (true...though I have recording equipment in my possesion I still haven't done it...maybe tomorrow) so he wanted to video tape me playing Gold LamE. That way he'd have it on him if opportunity arose. So on the last night of Song School I sat in the Wildflower Pavillion and Bubba Mack, Melissa Ferrick's tour manager extrodinaire, videoed me singing my new song.

Once I record it, I'll see if I can't find a way to post it here so you can all hear me channelling my inner Dolly Parton.

So, I love Melissa Ferrick. Not only because of her kindness to me, but because she is funny, a fantastic songwriter and an amazing performer. Her set rocked. Hooray for Melissa Ferrick.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

First Installment

I just got back last night from my week at Planet Bluegrass in Lyons, Colorado. I am still unpacking and processing but I wanted to post a couple of incredibly cool items to give you a hint, a smidge, a clue about just how amazing the four days of Song School and three days of the Folks Festival were.

Click here to read the article with which this photo of me and Josh Ritter (and some other people, but it's me and Josh Ritter who are important) was published. It's about The Song School and I am quoted. Thank you, Denver Post for making a public record of this!

And, this is one just makes me happy, click here to see my name mentioned in Melissa Ferrick's blog.

Aaaaaahhhh. Good stuff. More to come.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

You Will Not Be Sorry

Last night we watched "King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters." This is the best movie I have seen in a long, long time. You may know that Paul and I both are big fans of the mockumentary genre: "Wating for Guffman," "Spinal Tap," "Best in Show," etc. Imagine our delight to find a documentary--a straight documentary--that was every bit as funny and engaging as a Christopher Guest film. I laughed, I cried, I was on the edge of my seat--literally. I was.

Apparently the narrative feature film version of the documentary is now being written--I'm sure it will be fantastic and they will go nuts recreating the 80's hair and clothes and whatnot--but please, please see the original. No one can possibly play Billy Mitchell, Donkey Kong World Champion as villianously and hilariously as Billy Mitchell himself. No one could play underdog and all around good guy Steve Weibe better than Steve Weibe. If you just see the feature film you will think they made up the Video Game Score Keeper who practices transcendental meditation. Rent it. You will not be sorry.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The World Famous Dunbars

The Dunbar clan tends to monopolize the front page of the Hastings Tribune. This is our third cover this year. What can I say? We go where the action is and the photographers gravitate toward cute kiddos. Ollie is not pictured (he was to theright of Paul), but Mo's friend Trev is beside him (Ollie took that in stride--he's a trooper). The pic will link to the article.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

dinner time prayer

Dear God,
Thank you for curry sauce with chick peas and rice.
Thank you for Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone.
Thank you for Lemony Snickett's Series of Unfortuneate Events.
Thank you for The Magic Treehouse and Captain Underpants.
Thank you that we get to go see "Kung Fu Panda."
And thank you for Jesus.

beautiful day

We woke up around 8:30 or 9. Paul was already out birding. The kids and I took our books and breakfast to the patio. When we had finished eating and reading (me: Middlemarch, Ollie: Magic Treehouse Christmas in Camelot, Moses: 100 Things You Should Know About Arms and Armor, Phoebe: Harry Potter & the Sorceror's Stone) we made a bouquet. I handed out clippers and sent them each off in search of various cuttings from the yard: Phoebe, bring me a white peony. Moses, I need seven daisies. Oliver, get four springs of mint. We put it in a beautfiul vase made for me by Angela for my birthday last year. Then, we planted some grass seed and watered the plants. Next, we took a walk.

Paul came home and we all ate lunch and drove to the Stuhr Museum in Grand Island. The kids had been there on field trips (one of which I chaperoned). Paul had never been, but he's officiating a wedding in the rose garden there in a couple of weeks. We got a map from the main building (where Ollie caused a traffic jam by reading aloud the sign that said "Sturh Museum Foundation." I wasn't really paying attention and it wouldn't have struck me if I had been, but all the docents freaked out that Ollie fluently read the sign. I forget sometimes that most five year olds don't do that) and headed to the 1898 railroad town.

It's a whole town set circa 1898 (I accidentally typed 1989--that would be kind of fu too, though). In each building there is a docent or "interpreter" in period dress who walks you around, explains and answers questions. We toured homes--the kids were fascinated by the stoves, the box grand piano and a dumb waiter. In one house the interpreter was so shy and akward that I felt like we had actually just walked into her house. At the next house a young woman walked out onto the porch to greet us and said to the kids "I'm so glad you are here! I need your help!" and she marched them to the backyard to take the laundry off the line. It was fantatstic. We went to the mill, the tin smith (the kids made a tin icicle), the post office, railway station, jail, etc. The kids wanted to know about everything and kept saying things that made my heart glad like, "Marilla Cuthbert has that in her kitchen!" or "Laura Ingalls probably used one of those."

Just before 5:00 we went to the early bird dinner at Red Lobster. I know, Red Lobster. But even in the big town of Grand Island our choices are Applebee's, Ruby Tuesday, Whiskey Creek, Perkins and Red Lobster. You know what? It was delicious. I had the grilled harbor platter (shrimp and lobster), Paul had a big ole plate of crab legs and the kids had popcorn shrimp. Our stuffed bellies suprisingly had ice-cream shaped holes in them (this is our standard joke when the kids CAN'T eat their vegetables because they are SO FULL, but then ask for desert) so we went to Cold Stone Creamery and headed home. Paul got pulled over on 281, but got off with a warning.

Monday was a good day.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Catch Up

Tonight is our Vacation Bible School picnic. For the fifth or sixth year I have done VBS music. As my musicianship has improved so has the VBS music. Tonight we will be singing "Oh, How I Love Jesus" and "Softly and Tenderly" accompanied by the accordion (note the 3/4 time on those--perfect for the oooom-pah-pah), which most of the kids had never seen before, and "Alleluia to the Lamb" and "Big House" accompanied by the pink Daisy Rock electric guitar. Of course the acoustic would have been just fine, but the kids got really really jazzed about plugging in. After the picnic several other mom/helpers will go to Murphy's for our annual post-VBS beer. I love my church.

Paul bought a 23-pound turkey. The desire for a giant turkey must have just struck him while at the grocery store. I started defrosting it--it took forever--and realized I was running out of dinners at which to serve a giant turkey. Tonight is the picnic, tomorrow is Phoebe's birthday party and Sunday we'll be in Iowa. So, I got up early and put that bad boy in the oven. We had roast turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy for lunch today...June 6..for no good reason. It was great. While Paul was carving I drove to the gas station and bought big-gulpy giant Cokes to go with our giant turkey. Yum.

Phoebe's ninth birthday party is tomorrow. Six girls are coming over. We're roasting hotdogs over a fire in the back yard and having s'mores in lieue of cake. Did I put an extra "e" in lieue?

I'm missing a camp reunion right now. I'm trying to think about it. I could be in Monett chillin' at the Garretts' house and visiting the greatest man I've ever known, Heno Head, who is old and quite ill and requested we have a reunion so that he could see us all, his camp children, again. I just couldn't swing it. JVB even offered to meet me at the Iowa/Nebraska border and drive me down. :(

JVB lives astonishinly close to John & Hope, but almost everytime I go visit John and Hope JVB goes out of town. I think we'll get to see him this time on our way home, though. Hooray!

My parents brought us a Wii. There's loads of fake tennis and fake boxing etc going on around here. I'm sad to say, my initial Wii fitness age was 79. Say what?

My mother-in-law in Indiana called me at seven this morning. My mother in St. Louis called me at eight. Both had heard on the news, or heard from someone who heard on the news that Hastings was hit by tornados. Not true. Wednesday night the sirens went off at 1 am and we hauled the kids to the basement, but there was no rotation. Last Thursday there were loads of tornados throughout the state, but none in Hastings. Last night, there was nothing.

I'm taking a one-credit class by arrangement this summer. The chair of the English department, another English professor, my friend/co-worker J and I are reading George Eliot's Middlemarch. We get together on Wednesday nights at the chair's home and discuss. It's like my dream book group. I get college credit for this. Reading and talking and drinking ginger tea.

Speaking of ginger--vodka ginger lemonade--my new summer drink of choice. Mix one cup sugar, one cup water and 2 tsp ground ginger. Boil for a couple minutes until slightly syruppy. Let cool. Then pour syrup into a pitcher with 1/2 cup lemon juice, 1-1/4 cup vodka and a 750 ml bottle of sparkling water. Serve over ice. Say hello to summer.

Because of my nutty new life with a job and graduate school I didn't teach Sunday School at all this year until the past three weeks. Why is it so easy to forget how much I love something? What a ridiculous notion--to forget a thing like that. I love those kids. It was great to discuss spiritual matters and theology with teenagers and try and get them to really think and not just recite and try and break big ideas down into smaller pieces, not too small--not pat-answers--but manageable pieces. Good stuff.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Soundtrack of my Life

My friend Joe posted this little game on his facebook page and since today I am all about 1) music and 2) stealing ideas from other people's blogs, I thought I'd play.

So, here's how it works:1. Open your library (iTunes, Winamp, Media Player, iPod, etc) 2. Put it on shuffle. 3. Press play. 4. For every question, type the song that's playing. 5. When you go to a new question, press the next button. 6. Don't lie and try to pretend you're cool. This is my life as a movie soundtrack...

Opening Credits: Ob La Di Ob La Da--The Beatles (beautiful start!)
First Day At School: Keep the Customer Satisfied -- Simon & Garfunkle
Falling In Love: Mah Na Mah Na -- The Muppets (strangely appropriate)
Breaking Up: Every Minute -- Sara Groves
1st date: Coleman Stove -- Jalan Crossland
Prom: School House Rocky, the theme from School House Rock
Life's OK: Box of Letters -- Emily Dunbar (a little wierd to hear myself, but it's my soundtrack, right?)
Driving: You Can Still Rock in America -- Night Ranger (perfect!)
Flashback: Overture from The Nightmare Before Christmas
Getting Back Together: Down to the River to Pray -- Allison Krauss
Wedding: Mad Mission -- Patty Griffin
Final Battle: Bitter End -- Dixie Chicks
Death Scene: Circle of Life from the Lion King (I kid you not!)
Funeral Song: In Thee is Gladness (instrumental) -- Jonathan Rundman (nice!)
End Credits: Stockton Gala Days (unplugged) -- 10,000 Maniacs

mix tape

I saw this on The Champ's blog and had to make my own. It may not stay up there forever, but I'll leave it for a while. Happy listening.

Monday, May 19, 2008

More Bonehead Moments

Last night we had two Netflix DVDs to choose from: "Across the Universe" and "No Country for Old Men." Paul said he was in the mood for "No Country..." This surprised me because we were starting late after an evening with friends in the backyard and I sort of felt like lighter fare. But no matter; I deferred; in went "No Country for Old Men."

It turns out Paul had, in his mind, confused "No Country for Old Men" with "The Bucket List." Why he would have imagined I'd ordered "The Bucket List" from Netflix is another issue, but imagine his surprise when Javier Bardem's character started strangling people with handcuffs and blowing their brains out with an air compressor. Nicholson and Freeman in the feel good movie of the year it is not.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Bonehead Moments with Emily Dunbar

I just wrote a final paper compareing the use of tragic dramatic irony in Sophocles' Oedipus the King and the use of comic dramatic irony in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. I went to take my final yesterday (one of three that day!) and came to a question that stumped me.

Name Oedipus' s mother and father.

Well, I had just written the paper--that should have been easy. I thought to myself "Laius is the father and the mother is....? Jocasta is his wife, but who is his mother?" I finally left it blank.

Uh, his wife IS his mother.

That's the whole flippin' point of the story: he kills his father and marries his mother.

I don't have a 4.0 for nothing, folks.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Third Grade Spelling Homework

Phoebe was working on writing a sentence with each of her spelling words. She ran this one by me:

Being physically blind is very different from being spiritually blind.

I'm sure Mrs. Olson will love that.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Get This

It's Academic Showcase Day at Hastings College. I'm presenting a paper--a literary anaylsis of Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club. I've never really presented a paper before so I'm a little nervous, but it's a good paper, I put together a decent power point to go with it; it will be fine. And becaue it is ASD there are no classes today. That's nice.

I just checked my email and there was a deal from Planet Bluegrass--which puts on the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival and The Song School (for which I got my grant). Get this:
1. Nanci Griffith is in the line up for the festival.
2. Josh Ritter is in the line up for the festival and will be an instructor at song school.
How freakin' cool is that?!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Fully Funded!


There are two things I have always dreamed of being: a rock star and an English teacher. They are not as dissimilar as they immediately seem. Both entail standing before a group of people, forging a connection, and sharing knowledge and ideas, be they academic, creative or emotional.
Six years ago I took my first steps toward my dream of rock stardom by buying a guitar and taking lessons. As a twenty-seven-year-old pastor's wife and stay-at-home-mom of three, the dream, not surprisingly, took on a new form from that of my youth. I quickly became aware that my joy didn't lie necessarily in performance or the hope of fame, but in creation. I began to study the craft of songwriting. I now perform regularly in Hastings and nearby communities and in 2006, I won a statewide songwriting contest. The process of turning a daydream into a reality has been exciting, empowering and inspiring.

This fall I started working toward my second dream of being a teacher. I am pursing my Masters of Arts in Teaching with an endorsement in secondary English. I work as a graduate assistant in the Learning Center where I edit student papers, give general study help, and teach Learning Labs to students in the Excel program for academically at-risk freshmen. Much of my work is focused on writing, be it informal instruction to drop-in students or formal lessons in the Lab.

An Imagine Grant can help me combine my two dreams by attending The Song School at Planet Bluegrass. For the past twelve years Planet Bluegrass in Lyons, Colorado has hosted an intensive four-day songwriting workshop. The Song School is self-described as an event “which brings songwriting and creativity together in a community based on shared love of music and support for each participant.” Each August, songwriters from around the country and the globe join together to explore the writing process and create, hone and share their songs. The Song School provides a nurturing environment in which participants can stretch and grow in their creative endeavors. The faculty is made up of internationally known songwriters, actors, music professionals, and songwriting peers.

Attending The Song School will help me in my personal artistic journey and give me the tools to help others. My confidence, sense of personal creative fulfillment and my art itself will be impacted from the instruction, support and mentoring I receive. Also, I will have the opportunity to observe how to construct an open, creative learning environment, observe how instructors nurture their students’ creativity, and discover techniques for “out of the box” writing instruction which can be directly applied to my classroom teaching. The Song School’s model of mentoring relationships, supportive critiques, and a framework for collaboration are all things I can reproduce in my classroom both now and in the future.

However, I do not want to wait until I have completed my course of study here at Hastings College to put what I learn at The Song School to use. In the fall of 2008, I would like to host a grant-funded songwriting workshop for local high school students. The workshop will be free and open to any interested Hastings-area young writer. Using current and forging new contacts with private and school-based music teachers, I will distribute informational flyers inviting young writers to participate. Ideally, the workshop will be on a Saturday in September or October on the Hastings College campus. We will meet 9 AM to 5 PM, students to bring a brown bag lunch, drinks and snacks provided. I will design a curriculum and activities based on what I learned at The Song School, modified for the time frame, age group and number of participants.
In this direct way, I can pass on what I have learned from The Song School.

Hopefully, attending the songwriting workshop will help young writers find joy in self-expression and fulfillment through music, which they can, in turn, pass on. In the long term, as a classroom English teacher, I can use these same techniques to inspire my students, and fuel their dreams--even a dream as unlikely as being an English teacher and a rock star.

The Song School tuition/camping fee: $450.00

Meals (three per day @ $10/ six days): $180.00

Mileage (423 miles one way x2 @ $.048/mile) $406.08

Fall Songwriting Workshop (publicity, materials, refreshments, etc.) $100.00

Total: $1,136.08

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday

Today, Good Friday, was sunny and clear. Tomorrow is supposed to be rainy and cold. Upon hearing the weather forecast Phoebe said, and I quote: "It's too bad tomorrow isn't Good Friday. The weather would really reflect the religious goings on."

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Just in Time for Holy Week

This is one of those things that makes me think to myself "I probably shouldn't think this is so funny." But, after watching it 20 times on youtube and laughing myself silly, the honest thing to do is admit that I think it is REALLY REALLY funny and share it with you. Watch for this: "there's that. there's that."--that's the part that gets me.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


If you should happen
to turn your hair platinum
you'll never need to get
a helmet

* * * * * * * *
Said Fido to his owner Jack
"Let us try a different tack
I throw the stick, you bring it back."

* * * * * * * *
I saw a storm come rollin' in
upon a wagon wheel.
I saw a strom a'brewin'
seafood stew with eels.
I saw a storm a'ragin',
yelled with all he had.
And then the storm dropped great big tears.
How sad.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Because It's Fun

1. YOUR ROCK STAR NAME (first pet, current car):
Sambo Odyssey
2. YOUR GANGSTA NAME (fave ice cream flavor, favorite type of shoe):
Bunny Tracks Chucks
3. YOUR NATIVE AMERICAN NAME (favorite color, favorite animal):
Brown Greyhound
4. YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME (middle name, city where you were born):
Elizabeth St. Louis
5. YOUR STAR WARS NAME (the first three letters of your last name, first two of your first name):
6. SUPERHERO NAME (2nd favorite color, favorite drink):
Orange Snowflake
7. NASCAR NAME (the first names of your grandfathers):
Orville Harry
8. STRIPPER NAME ( the name of your favorite perfume/cologne/scent, favorite candy):
Shi Whachamacallit
(uh, not so much on this one)
Second Place: Downy Whachamacallit
(I'm not sure why it's gross but...gross!)
9. TV WEATHER ANCHOR NAME (your fifth grade teacher’s last name, a major city that starts with the same letter):
Ogles Orlando
10. SPY NAME (your favorite season/holiday, flower):
Summer Gerbera
11. CARTOON NAME (favorite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now):
Apple Socks
12. HIPPIE NAME (What you ate for breakfast, your favorite tree):
Muffin Willow

Thanks to Jill from whom I stole this list.

Monday, February 11, 2008

I Baracked The Vote @ The First Ever Nebraska Democratic Caucus

The Nebraska Democratic Caucas was Saturday night and I still can't get over it. It was a fabulous experience. Hopi versed me on the Iowa Caucus, so I had an idea of what it would entail, but I wasn't prepared for just how exciting it would be.

I drove out to the Adams County Fairgrounds at 5:30. The place was already hopping. I read that they were hoping for 200-250 people. There were well over 100 when I arrived. I filled out a little blue half-sheet caucas registration form at the door. There were folks handing out stickers as we walked in and I took an Obama sticker from a city councilwoman. Until that point I was still feeling 85% Obama, 15% Clinton, but it was time to make the leap. Kathy smacked that Obama sticker on.

I took my little blue sheet around a partition to the registration tables that were arranged alphabetically. My academic advisor registered me (I knew probably 7 of the 10 volunteers at the tables), gave me a name tag with my precinct on it and directed me toward my precinct (3C) table. Each Adam's county precinct had its own round table, with folding chairs around it and posters & such for each candidate strewn about it.

I met my neighbors. There was no one yet at the table whom I knew, but since the precincts are geographical, they all live near me. We made introductions and chit chat as we watched the room fill up. It was just amazing. More and more people kept coming! I saw all my professors (two of whom it turned out are in my precinct, husband and wife, split on candidates) and everybody who I hoped would appear two hours later at the Listening Room Show--about 75% of our audience was there! I saw friends from school and a few from church. It was like a Who's Who of fun people in Hastings.

Those of you readers who live in Metropolitan areas probably can't imagine how crazy this was for us. Nebraska is such a red state that in the last presidential election I wondered if there was even a point to voting. Did my one Democratic vote count in the sea of Republicans? In the last presidential election I did not see a SINGLE tv ad for a candidate. Neither Kerry nor Bush wasted their money campaigning here when it was a given that Nebraska would go red. It made me feel sort of useless and isolated. This time Obama is running tv ads here. I got calls from both Obama and Clinton's campaigns--and I mean actual people on the phone, not recordings. They want MY vote. I count. God bless America.

And then to have over 500 people come to the fairgrounds to was like a coming out party. No more closets for the Democrats! We all marveled and said "it's not just me! look at us all!" An announcement was made that they were running out of registration sheets and the place went nuts with applauding and cheering. An announcement was made that there was a red BMW in the parking lot with its lights on, followed by "I didn't think there were any Republicans here" and we all giggled and clapped.

At about 6:15 it was time to get down to business. Our temporary chairman said we needed to elect a permanent chairman (we picked him because he clearly knew what he was doing) and a secretary (easily done). We counted off to verify how many of us there were in precint 3C (there were 18). Then by show of hands we voted Clinton, Obama or Uncommitted. It came out 11 Clinton, 7 Obama, 0 Uncommitted. We arranged ourselves into groups.

In other precincts where there were uncommitted voters, each group selected a spokesman to speak on behalf of its candidate to try and persuade the uncommitted to join their side. I heard that in some precints, particularly the larger ones, this was done rather formally. We had a friendly discussion, except for one Clinton supporter who accused us of not thinking a woman could do the job (we booed) and then said "...and Obama's values are not what our country needs!!" at which point her own group told her that she was way off-base and was no longer representing their point of view. Then the rest of us went back to our friendly discussion: youth verses experience and electibility. We mostly all thought it was a shame to have to choose between the two. No one changed sides.

Meanwhile, our chairman had his caculator out to figure how many delegates we would send to the county caucas on June 2. There was a formula that decided the ratio of Clinton delegates to Obama delegates, but the delegates from each precint needed to be 50/50 male/female or as close to it as we could get. People volunteered. The secretary looked over the chairman's paperworked an signed off. And that was the Nebraska Democtratic Caucus in Adam's County.

I did an informal poll and my precinct was the only one I heard of that went to Clinton--totally anecdotal. The county and the state went Obama. Obama won by a lot in Lincoln and Omaha and by a much closer margin out in the third district (which includes Hastings and the western chunk of the state).

I read online and in the paper about what a mess there was in Omaha and Lincoln. The number of participants WAY exceeded expectation and things sort of fell apart. I was really very proud of how well ours went--even with twice the attendance hoped for. It also made me so glad to live in a smaller community. It felt like home to walk around and see so many people I know--and to know that the delegates are my classmates and neigbhors and professors--not just random people. The volunteers knew what they were doing, the chairpeople were well trained, even though it was the first time it was done, and everyone seemed pumped to be a part of the process. It was a big party. A big political party :)

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Out of the Blue (I'm a star like Debbie Gibson!)

Acid Planet is a website where musicians can posts recordings of their songs. People log in, listen to music and write reviews of each other's work. There is some sort of chart system whereby people who get the most comments rise in the rankss. I joined in October of 2003 when I first figured out how to record on my pc. It was great fun, especially as a super newbie songwriter and performer, to hear comments from strangers on my music. Of course, the way the chart system is set up makes it sort of a mutual back-stratching society. I write a comment for you, you write a comment for me, we both rise in the charts. Frankly, I've never looked at the charts, but for a while I was sort of obsessed with Acid Planet. It was a way for my far away friends to hear what I was doing and for me to get some confidence boosts in the relative anonymity of cyberspace.

It's been two years since I've posted ANYTHING on Acid Planet. Maybe every six months I'll get an email that someone has reviewed a song and I think "OH! I forgot that was out there!" A couple days a go I got an email from Acid Planet saying congratulations, I had been included in an Acid Planet podcast. I thought hmf, whatever. And then I started getting review notice after review notice.

I just listened to the podcast. Okay, I listened until I heard myself (and thankfully, I'm the second song!). It was bizarro to hear the podcaster announce me like a dj and then play a song I posted two years ago and haven't even played since! And now, apparently people are listening to the podcast, then finding my Acid Planet page and listening to my music! Wierd! And a lot of it is old...and not so good!

If you want to hear the podcast click here. You can fast forward to about 5:50 to hear me. If you want to take a stroll down memory lane and listen to old Emily Dunbar "hits" (aka: mostly crappy home recordings but a few nice ones recorded by and with Jay Bayles--I recommend "did you not think of me") you can click here.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

My New Hat

From Interweave Crochet Winter 2007:

Friday, January 11, 2008

a rose by any other name still rocks the 80's synthpop

In March The Listening Room is having its Artists in Residence concert featuring local songwriters including yours truly. Today I was working on a little bluegrass version of Bad Connection by Yaz that I'd like to play for the show. I love Yaz. Bad Connection. Don't Go. Only You. All fantastic British synth-pop gems which made a big impression on me in my youth. My sister had a copied cassette tape of Yaz's album Upstairs at Eric's. I listened to it over and over--I remember being in seventh or eigth grade when I first heard it, so 1987-88. I know 80s syth-pop doesn't seem to lend itself to bluegrass, but its gonna rock.

I don't know what my attraction to British synth-pop is, especially considering that I play acoustic guitar and now listen to mostly acoustic-based artists and bands. Those songs are just so catchy and I keep wanting to cover them. When I bought my accordion, the first song that I figured out how to play was Depeche Mode's song Just Can't Get Enough. Bad Connection and Just Can't Get Enough are two of my all time favorite songs.

I started wondering what happen to Yaz. I knew Yaz's singer was Alison Moyet because when the first Very Special Christmas album came out in 1987, she sang The Coventry Carol. I knew instantly who she was (though I didn't recognize her name on the cassette) because her voice is unmistakable. I heard nothing of Yaz until Only You made the finale of the BBC's The Office and showed up in Napolean Dynamite. I wanted to fill in the gaps so I went to Wikipedia.

Get this: Alison Moyet's partner in Yaz (know in Britain as Yazoo--who knew?!) was Vince Clarke. Vince Clarke started out in Depeche Mode. He WROTE Just Can't Get Enough (1981). Clarke quit Depeche Mode when they started getting big, formed Yaz and wrote Bad Connection, Only You, etc.! Yaz split in 1983. Clarke went on to start Erasure!

So, Vince Clarke is my new hero, my new 80's British synth-pop songwriting hero.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

headlining ladies

I liked Hillary in the debate tonight. I hate having to qualify that was thoughts about "electibility."
I can't believe Britney got sent to the funny farm and was then let out again.