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Nature in LA 





In LA, California right now working on a few projects (in addition to trying to catch some wonderful California sun and a bit of the ocean view). I never like to be far from nature for too long. Mountains, the ocean, and wind all breathe perspective and life into me.  Helps me to feel and hear what I need to be able to write because I feel centered and close to God when I am close to His creations.

Working on some songs and a set list for a trip to Vancouver in June to sing for a wonderful group of about 1500 Washington youth. So for an exercise break...tonight I will take a walk on Redondo Beach. Me oh my, we've got some nice weather here right now.

Reminiscing on the most recent tour... 



This last round of touring was simply amazing. It has been one educational and incredible adventure once again. I love the people we met.... and yes, I would definitely do it again. I want to somehow paste all the pictures and names of the people we meet on this blog, so I'll try my best to at least post a handful here.

After touring I get to play catch-up on a lot of the not-so-exciting things I get behind on. Like laundry and errand-running. ;)

But I ALSO get to begin to work again on some of the things I have been looking forward to - like helping produce work for others (Hannah & Rachel Bradshaw, Jeff Valenta, and some other neat folks).

I am really looking forward to recording the next album.... ideas are a'brewing....

Pocket Sounds Tour 


Hello Friends!


I’m hearing birds and crickets, the weather is gonna be warming up, and that means… SUMMER! In celebration of sunblock and watermelon, Nikki Forova and I are heading out on our Pocket Sounds: Summer 2011 Tour!

We feel rather giddy about seeing YOU and sharing a handful of tunes we’ve been carrying around in our pockets for a while (some new, some old)! We’ll be visiting familiar places and faces, as well as spending some time nearer those of you we haven’t yet met (see our 321 Challenge at the bottom of this newsletter).


Here’s the schedule:

May 27 – South Jordan, UT

SoDa Row Live Music Series
Daybreak’s shopping and dining district: 4700 W. Daybreak Parkway
6-8pm, Free

June 2 – Provo, UT
Farmer’s Market
Pioneer Park: 500 W. Center Street
11:30am-12:30pm, Free

June 7 – Scottsdale, AZ
Private Event

June 10 – Mesa, AZ

Musician’s Choice
3049 E McKellips Road #1
7:00-8:30pm, $4

June 11 – Tempe, AZ

Summer Kick-Off Concert
TBA
8-10pm, $4

June 17 – Santa Ana, CA

Gypsy Den
125 N. Broadway Avenue
8:30-10:15 pm, Free

June 23 – Los Angeles, CA

Genghis Cohen
740 N. Fairfax Avenue
8:00-9:30 pm, $10

June 30 – Coeur d' Alene, ID

Moontime
1602 Sherman Avenue
7:30pm, 21+, Free

July 1 – Sandpoint, ID
Private Event

July 2 – Sandpoint, ID

Di Luna's
207 Cedar Street
7:30pm, Free

July 8 – Orem, UT
Central Utah Gardens Concert Series
355 W. University Parkway
7:30-8:30 pm, Free


If you don’t live nearby, you may know someone who does, so …

Here’s our fun 321 Challenge: At the end of this tour, the person who brings OR refers the most folks to our shows* wins a gift box of 3 autographed CD’s, 2 download cards (includes 2 cars that fit in your pocket), and why not … 100 pieces of candy! Spread the word to anyone you think might be interested. We’d love you to take home some music for your pockets (iPods, iPhones, etc.)!

*Find us after the show and tell us how many guests you invited. If referring: have the referred person give us your name after the show ;)


Thank you for your continued support! Can’t wait to see you!

April


p.s. Sneak preview for the next couple months… I’ll be teaming up with some other fantastic artists for a handful of exciting shows coming up in July and August! I’ll keep you posted.

HIGHLIGHTS of 2010 



2010 has been an exceptional year.

As I reflect on the events of this last 12 months, I realize what a milestone year in my life this has been. It has been deeply fulfilling and memorable ... musically and other-wise. Not to mention FUN! I have many of you (including my associate producer/manager Brent Jenkins) to thank for that.

 
Here's a recap on some of the fun and meaningful musical highlights: 

8 highlights of 2010:
 
  • YOU helped us raise enough money (from online album sales earlier this year) to buy Haiti 2 water filtration systems (that can provide 150 gallons of clean drinking water for 10 years) as well as hygiene kits and seeds for volunteers to plant gardens. We worked with "Sustain Haiti"  to do this (an NGO non-profit made up of Haitians, development specialists, and other concerned citizens).
  • Toured the U.S. Western States with Nikki Forova for 3 months, July 8th-Oct. 8th. That's 33 concerts in 31 different cities.
  • Saw some old friends and made many wonderful new ones (one of the most gratifying things about touring).
  • The unexpected happened: found out I was on the entry lists for the Grammy's 2011! I didn't make it as one of the final few, but I already knew it would be nearly impossible for any new indie artist (not yet platinum status) to make it to the final list. I also know it can't hurt to appear on any of those  lists ;) so I'm very happy about the whole thing! 
  • Was featured on the the cover of Mormon Artist magazine (complete with music interview) as well as other magazines/newspapers and got some radio play!
  • Finished producing and released Jamie Hartley's CD, a lady who's life and voice has inspired me for years. Helped fundraise for her non-profit, USeb (United Survivors of Epidermylosis Bullosa).
  • Realized even more deeply how grateful I am to be able to create and share something I believe in.
2010 seems hard to beat, but I have a sneaking suspicion that 2011 is gonna give it some good competition. ;)

Are we human or are we dancer? 



Ok, I admit it. Between releasing my album, touring, events with family/friends and other musical projects I have not written a journal entry here for months. Nothing. Nada. Not one word. Less time has meant: less journal-writing. And less journal writing has meant: well, you know, no journal entry.

Sometimes I have these really great moments where I think I'm superhuman and can get done everything I want to get done in the time I want to do it. Pretty sweet. 

And then of course I wake up. Hmmm.

Am I the only one who every month or so who has this utterly frustrating realization that I'm only human and cannot do 893 things in a 24-hour period?  Never mind, don't answer that. I think I already know how you would respond. Apparently Congress has not yet passed that law I have been lobbying for. The one that would give us 30 hours in a day instead of 24. So I will just have to do my best with the time I do have. 24 hours should be enough, right? At least to get 562 things done in...

Which brings to mind my second, more important, question: "Are we humans or are we dancer?" Though I do not even fully comprehend the meaning of this question from a band I rather love, I too am deeply curious. If you have the answer, please let me know. I will graciously forward your answer on to The Killers as well, since I assume they are still searching for it also. ;)  It just puzzles us all to no end.


I'm still training to be super-human though, just so you know. This concludes my journal entry for today.

Wishing you super-human ability,
April


Album is OUT & upcoming tour! / 5 Confessions 











Hi my awesome friends (and now confidants)!

It’s confession time... I wanted to get you an update on 5 things that I feel very excited to share with you - things that are on my heart, mind, and plate (um, yes, but not the kind with food on it).

Confession #1 (and perhaps the most important): THANK YOU for your support and interest in this music. It took a long time to bring to this point and I feel grateful so many people seem to be connecting with it. That means the world to me to hear from you. I confess it makes all the work and heart put into it feel very worth it!

Confession #2: The new album is OUT! :) Okay, not a super new confession, I admit, but just in the off-chance that a case of Alzheimer’s hits and you can't remember where to get it: "Somewhere Between Sunsets" is available to order here on my website. So weird to have a site with my name on it. Lol. Anyhow, CD’s will be hitting some stores in July (I think I've been told).

Confession #3: TOUR plans are underway!! Another singer-songwriter & close friend of mine out of LA (Anastasia Nikoforova) just released a record also and we are hitting the road to do a California tour in July! Info on concert dates & places will be posted on my site over the next couple weeks. If you are gonna be in the area - it would be great to see you! Feel free to throw cool ideas, money and sour patch kids at us, but no tomatoes please.

Confession #4: I love to produce other artists' music. I do. There is something intangibly magical about helping capture on tape someone else's vision and have it spill out in a way that represents their heart and thoughts. Right now I am finishing up the production of Jamie Hartley's EP and she is yep - amazing! Like a mix between Celtic Women & Charlotte Church (with a tad bit of Josh Groban thrown into the mix). After looking at our crazy summer schedules, we have decided to do our joint concert this fall (when the weather's a bit cooler).

Confession #5: I just had to say that this whole experience has been quite an adventure. One I think that is teaching me in ways I never expected. I feel like I am learning a lot about what really matters in life as I try to prioritize an often hectic schedule (I think we all wish there were more like 36 hours in a day). I want to leave you with a quote from Mother Theresa that has been on my mind lately a lot. "We can do no great things, only small things with great love." There is nothing more beautiful than family, friends, God, and love…

Confession #6
(alright I can’t count): I am a believer in hope. Yep. I am.

God bless and hope to see you soon! I’d love to hear from you – drop me a note sometime (I will respond even if it’s a bit delayed)!
April

Night Music 



I have a lot to write about. So much in fact that it feels a little overwhelming.  I want to write all about the release and creation of the record. About good people I've recently met. Kind people I've  known. Brilliant musicians I've worked with on the album. The songs. And some less important details on yummy food I've eaten, waxing my 97 Geo and the compliment a 7-year old gave me, etc.

And I will try to a little later. 
But first I wanted to post a poem a wrote a while back that came to mind because It seems to fit this weather and the mood of the air.
In honor of the music on my roof and window last night...


Night Music

Of all the night’s music I love the most
It would have to be rain.
Calm, conversational liquid.
I crave the rhythm
The rock and sway
of lovely midnight tones;
Soothing polyrhythm’s
of unconventional chords
Anyway it comes -
Dripping, melting, pouring.
Warm, luke-warm
Solid, fast sheets of cold
(Is there such thing as luke-cold?)

Give me a night of this music
And I rest peaceful every time.




Thinking about Haiti 



For information on how you can help Haiti:
Click here for a list of charities vetted by CNN journalists for credibility (and for info on what your Haiti relief donation will be used for). These resources include the highest-rated charities by CharityNavigator.org.

Other reliable sources & info on donating can be found at:
Charities listed on NBC Philadelphia.com
LDS Philanthropies


Over a month ago I sat at my laptop at around 2am looking through videos and images of the massive destruction caused by the Jan 12th earthquake in Haiti. One picture that stuck out to me particularly was of a grieving father carrying his lifeless son away from the wreckage. It made me think of my baby brother. What if that was him being carried out by my dad? It hurt to even think about.

As of February 10th, 2010, the Haitian Government has estimated:
-up to 230,000 people died in the 7.0 earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti
(The death toll continues to rise)
-300,000 were injured
-250,000 homes were destroyed (leaving 1 million people homeless)
-rebuilding efforts could take up to ten years

As I viewed image after image of women, men, and children who had either been lost to the earthquake or were injured I could not help but think of my family. That could have been any of us. That could have been my family.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/un_photo/4274149529/


And in a way - it is. These are my Haitian brothers and sisters.

A lot of different thoughts and a mixture of emotions swept through me that night. It was hard to sleep. I imagine most all of us have felt a lot of these same feelings and asked many of these same questions since January 12th.

Recently I was contacted by someone wanting to make a video dealing with the situation in Haiti (and using some music I had written). The purpose of the video would be to encourage all of us to continue to help in the Haiti relief effort and to emphasize that (even though it may feel overwhelming) there are ways we can come together to make a difference. So over the period of a couple weeks the video above was created with that goal in mind (produced by Austin Craig).

I hope you find the video inspiring. Please share it with friends, family, total strangers ;) and help spread the message... there are various ways to help (financial donations: below are links to many reputable charities, time, talents, rebuilding, etc). All make a difference. One agency involved in relief work in Haiti informed me that $5 could pay a Haitian for a full days work on rebuilding. $5 couldn't even pay an hours wage here in the States, but in Haiti that goes a long way. So every dollar really does count.

Haiti is going to need help for a long time. It's easy after the first month of a crisis like this for us to kind of start to forget, but the suffering for those affected continues and the help and needs are still there and still very real. The great thing is we can do something about it.



Some personal thoughts on writing & the creation of 'Somewhere Between Sunsets' 


I think certain moments in our lives stick out more to us than others for a reason. A lot can happen in that amazing space of time from one day to the next. When I was young I remember how the smell of the pavement right after rain always made me want to lick the sidewalk to see if it tasted as good as it smelled. It is a happy memory for me. Full disclosure: I probably tried it once or twice (maybe I had some kind of mineral deficiency or something). ;) But for whatever reason, certain moments do stand out and the happy ones are all the more sweet as time moves - as it always does - forward.

On January 14th my associate producer, Brent Jenkins, launched this official website...and it's the first time we have actually had samples of 'Somewhere Between Sunsets' available for people to hear! What a particularly meaningful moment in time for me! Oh man. I believe that day will always stand out as sweet to me because it represents a ton of hard work, a good deal of courage, many sleepless nights, much faith (let's not forget the prayers) and a whole lot of giving from my gut and going with what my heart and instincts were telling me, even when it seemed hard. My associate producer (who can do just about anything I've realized) kept on working just as hard alongside me to ensure that we stayed true to the vision intended for this album. My goal was to give the songs that seemed to come a moment...a space that seemed natural and intuitive to the way I heard them - and as importantly - felt them. To give an honest voice to the stories - and those stories a chance to speak.

Song ideas tend to spill out for me in rough form at the piano, on my guitar, or on random papers (occasionally on napkins or whatever else I can find). And that's how each song on this album seemed to come - in a different way. I'm grateful for that because I write from personal experience and from what I see around me. I'm surrounded by marvellous souls...sometimes they're no further than the next room...and sometimes they are thousands of miles away. We each experience our moment in this journey and path in a slightly different way. It may seem weird a little (and maybe not) but I really learn a lot from what I write. What I do or don't say. And usually it's when I have the courage to put what I really feel out - I learn. And I grow. I learn about myself, about God, the world and the people around me. So that's what I try to do.

The responses we have received about the record have truly blown me away. To be honest and put it simply - I feel profoundly touched. As any songwriter can affirm, you never really know how your songs will be received until you put them out there, so it has been a moving experience to hear that people are connecting to the songs and enjoying them.

I'm going to start writing more about the process of creating the album and individual songs over these next few weeks. I look forward to the next part of this journey...  we'll see what adventure tomorrow brings.

But whatever it brings, I hope rain is a part of it. ;)

exit Summertime. enter... Autumn Leaves. 

exit Summertime.

Two songs that have been particularly special to me over the years are "Summertime" (music by George Gershwin & lyrics by Dubose Heyward) and "Autumn Leaves" (music by Joseph Kosma & lyrics by poet Jacques Prévert....Johnny Mercer wrote English lyrics for it in 1947). Often I will try to include them in my sets - whether I'm with a jazz trio, quartet, etc. or in other settings with rock/pop/folk musicians. There is an unusual earthy sweetness in the melody, lyrics, and feeling in both songs and they somehow transport me....

Likewise, there is something about the physical shifting of the seasons from Summer to Autumn that has a similar effect on me. I am enchanted. Change is in the air.

The last few months a lot has happened with work on my album - and music in general. I don't have time to mention everything, but to put it in a nutshell: it was a GREAT summer. In between shows and trips out of town for music, we finished ALL of the recording and editing, MOST of the mixing, and I made a change to the title of the album - from "Harvest of Change" to "Somewhere Between Sunsets." That has a story behind it itself - so feel free to ask me sometime. It feels good to be so close on things. As of my mixing session this morning, we really have only 2 mixes left (scheduled to finish next week) and then begin the mastering and work on the graphic design phase of things. After that it's duplication, getting official website up, release concert, etc. :)

A few particularly great moments from summer?
Eating the best steak and potatoes of my life (thanks to the superb chef - my brother Mike), gaining a FANTASTIC Sis-in-law (Marie Duan), performing at the Homestead - stunning view, recording a duet with Justin Williams for his upcoming album, family coming to town to visit, playing in the" Hammerhands" Concert Series with some great folks, eating 200 donuts (ok, watching others eat them on a string), writing a new song for a friend's book, doing a Fireside in Reno for some awesome youth, finding out a lost and found had found my lost keys, accidentally/happily discovering a new fun rendition of "Apologize," ("It's never too late to 'pologize..."), singing at the top of my lungs with my step-sis. haha. Good times. And I ALMOST won at pick-up-sticks (thanks a lot, Jer).

My general manager says to tell you he added links to videos posted by fans - kudos Brent! :)

Jamie Hartley's EB Survivor Week rocked (we've been working on recording more of her album this last few weeks as well)! She and her husband, Taylor Hartley, really worked hard to make their dream of doing a camp for EB surviors a reality. It was fun to sing with her and do a handful of original tunes before Comedy Sportz performed....they even invited me up to play the guitar for their musical improv - wow, I've never backed up a comedy troupe before. ;)

Took several drives up the canyon, wrote some new music, and enjoyed some very meaningful conversations with old friends, new friends, dates, and family.


I guess all I can say is: I feel blessed.

I'm learning in ways that stretch me. There is much good in the world - great reason to hope. I look forward to a memorable next few months :)


enter Autumn Leaves.

(and Sunset phase of CD preparation)
 
http://www.flickr.com/photos/orcaman/3531659796/
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