NPR World Cafe - Reworking Trauma: Mary Gauthier Tells Veteran Stories on 'Rifles & Rosary Beads'

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Happy February!

Thank you so much for your support of my new record, Rifles & Rosary Beads! Co-written with Veterans and their families, Rifles & Rosary Beads has already made its way around the world. The reviews are coming in every day, and we thought we would share some of the highlights from the press with you. Click on each link below to read the articles.

Also, I'm looking forward to seeing my East Coast friends this week, with shows in New York City, Boston, Vienna and Annapolis, in support of my new record. We have a whole list of dates lined up, including our Album Release Show on February 23rd in Franklin, Tennessee! You can find tickets and see where we'll be next at
www.marygauthier.com.

Press Highlights

"The importance of this effort cannot be overstated."
-Country Standard Time

"The album's honesty and insight into an often overlooked aspect of American democracy - the on-the-ground experiences of soldiers and, especially, the aftermath of their time in combat - is a gift in a contemporary moment full of chatter and political rhetoric."
-NPR World Cafe

"Rifles & Rosary Beads' gives veterans and their spouses a voice, a chance to find in song the words that foster growth in the midst of trauma...Gauthier and her co-writers deliver an album of songs that momentarily make the burdens of these men and women lighter, for in these songs they've found the care and empathy of a listening stranger who sits not in judgment but embraces in love." 
-No Depression

Mary Gauthier with Veteran and Co-Writer Jamie Trent

Mary Gauthier with Veteran and Co-Writer Jamie Trent

Reviews Around the World

"När Mary Gauthier skriver sånger tillsammans med amerikanska militärveteraner hittar hon kvaliteter långt bortom de terapeutiska, samtidigt som hon känns igen rent musikaliskt."
- Dagens Nyheter, Sweden, 1/26/18

"Pensez The Ghost of Tom Joad à la rencontre d’Universal Soldier, en plus cru, en plus nu, en plus tendre aussi. Un album essentiel."
 - Le Devoir, Canada, 2/2/18


"Ingen kan rimligtvis ta miste på att Mary Gauthier brinner både för låtarna och historierna de ger offentligt liv åt och det gör ”Rifles & Rosary Beads” till en av hennes starkaste skivor hittills."
 - Mono Magasin, Sweden, 12/13/17

January 26th: TODAY is Record Release Day!

Photo by Tyler McQueen

Photo by Tyler McQueen

Available Now

Today's the day!
Rifles & Rosary Beads hit the stores this morning!
It's finally record release day!

This is by far the most collaborative project I have ever embarked on, and I am forever indebted to my co-writers, those brave women and men whose stories got turned into song through the magic of empathy.

My co-writers are the ones who lived these stories, and they are the ones who served. It is their courage, and their willingness to speak of the things they've seen, done and witnessed that make these songs come alive.

The songs feel real because they are real. I am forever in awe of the generosity of the folks I have had the privilege of co-writing with.

Also, I must acknowledge the incredible work of Darden Smith and Mary Judd, co-founders of
SongwritingWith:Soldiers. I thank them for allowing me to be a part of their amazing non-profit, this beautiful, collaborative adventure that they built from the ground up. SongwritingWith:Soldiers continues to serve those who have served us. The hard work that goes into keeping the program running happens behind the scenes daily, through Darden and Mary's dedicated work and commitment. I am forever grateful to be a part of this organization. 

The early press for the record is positive, and it is my hope that as we move into the release cycle, people will listen to these songs with an open heart and an open mind. Those who have served have sacrificed much.  Their service matters, no matter what we feel about the conflicts they've served in.

I thank each and every one of my co-writers, and can't wait to bring their songs to the listeners.

Deep breath. Here we go!

ORDER PHYSICAL COPY

DOWNLOAD DIGITAL ALBUM

Rolling Stone Debuts Bobby Bare's "I Drink" Video

1/9/18: Rolling Stone & Rolling Stone Country Debut Bobby Bare's "I Drink" Video

"'I Drink' was written by one of my favorite songwriters, Mary Gauthier - she lived it. It's a heart-wrenching story of alchoholism and the effects it can have on a family," said Bobby Bare, adding, "I am proud of the depiction of the song through this video and hope it will sincerely touch people. If you're struggling, get help, it could save your family and your life. I recommend AA as a starting point."

READ THE FULL STORY HERE ON ROLLING STONE

AND ROLLING STONE COUNTRY

"BROTHERS" PREMIERE

"Brothers" Premiere: JANUARY 5TH, 2018
CLICK HERE TO READ BILLBOARD PREMIERE

"Brothers" Co-Writers Britney Pfad and Meghan Counihan with Mary Gauthier at a Songwriting With Soldiers Retreat.

"Brothers" Co-Writers Britney Pfad and Meghan Counihan with Mary Gauthier at a Songwriting With Soldiers Retreat.

We’ve premiered two songs in advance of the album release, and today, we’re premiering a third song: Brothers.

Each song on this record is a glimpse inside the heart and soul of a Veteran (or their spouse). Using service members’ own words and stories, these songs bring listeners deep into the harrowing effects of war.  

Brothers
is a deep dive into what it was like for a female soldier who was a member of the first generation of US female soldiers to be sent into combat. Co-written with the great songwriter Georgia Middleman and Iraq War Veterans Meghan Counihan and Britney Pfad, this song is about a Soldier who was deployed to Iraq right after giving birth, while she was still nursing.

"Brothers" Co-Writer Meghan Counihan in uniform.

"Brothers" Co-Writer Meghan Counihan in uniform.

She had no choice - she had to go, so she went. What happened to her when she got there and how she was treated by her fellow soldiers, was as harrowing as the war itself.

Brothers addresses the sexism and push back that female soldiers had to endure from their fellow service members. Brothers is a powerful song, and I hope it moves the narrative forward in a way that is helpful to both women AND men.

I've learned, through my own songs, that the narrative of a wounded life can be re-written into a universal story that many relate to. This connection happens naturally - not by trying to write a "healing" song, but through honesty. An emotionally honest song can dislodge a seemingly frozen story, thaw the story, and release some of the infection. The song then becomes a step beyond the self, towards others who have felt the same way. This sacred occurrence can be transformative. Many of the co-writers of the Soldiers Songs have said their song was a turning point for them. Here's to the women, especially the ones who went first.

Thank you, Meghan, for your courage and your story.
We can't wait to get this out into the world!

Ladies and gentleman, I present Brothers:

Brothers
By Mary Gauthier, Meghan Counihan, Britney Pfad, Georgia Middleman

War ripped my baby from my breast
Now my name and rank cover my chest
23 hours I flew and wept
23 hours and I never slept

I wiped my face, changed my soaking bra
Told my body not to feel at all
I tried to be like you, what must I do?
To prove that I'm a brother too?

I thought RPG's were fireworks
That's how green I was at first
Blood blistered feet, black and blue
I slid inside my blood-filled boots

70-lb pack, plus you on my back
Spilled my blood on the road, man I carried my load
Kept you in my view, I'd die for you
Don't that make me a brother too?

It's ok to cry, that's what you say
But if I do I'm damned anyway
I learned to cry without a sound
'cause I'm afraid you'll put me down

You broke my heart on Veteran's Day
Don't you understand the words you say?
You raised a flag for the men who served
What about the women, what do we deserve?

I was just like you when the bullets flew
I had your back, you had mine too
Brothers in arms, your sisters covered you
Don't that make us your brothers too?

Say it for me, say it for you,
Your sisters are your brothers, too.

CLICK HERE TO RECEIVE AN IMMEDIATE DOWNLOAD OF "BROTHERS"
When You Pre-Order a Digital Copy of Rifles & Rosary Beads

"Brothers" Co-Writers and Iraq War Veterans Meghan Counihan and Britney Pfad with Mary Gauthier at a Songwriting With Soldiers Retreat.

"Brothers" Co-Writers and Iraq War Veterans Meghan Counihan and Britney Pfad with Mary Gauthier at a Songwriting With Soldiers Retreat.

Cinema On The Bayou: January Newsletter

Happy New Year, Y'all!

My new record, Rifles & Rosary Beads, comes out on January 26th! Tour dates are pouring in, and I'm getting ready to hit the highway!

I’ll be premiering a short documentary about the making of the record  (also called Rifles & Rosary Beads) at the Cinema On The Bayou Film Festival in Lafayette, Louisiana on January 24th.

I’ll be there in person, (with filmmakers Neilson Hubbard and Josh Britt), to answer questions and play songs. My family is coming, and it’s going to be a wonderful night in a beautiful place, with great Cajun food!

I'll head back to Nashville on the 25th to teach a sold out Songwriting Workshop, then fly to London January 29th to lead a Songwriting Workshop at the Americana UK Awards and present an Award at the Awards Show. Finally, Michele Gazich and I will perform an Album Release Show in Milton Keynes, UK on January 31st, with Special Guest Aaron Lee Tasjan.

"Brothers" Premiere: 1/5

“You raised a flag for the men who served

What about the women, what do we deserve?”  - Brothers

I'll be back on Facebook LIVE later this week to premiere Brothers, a song from the new record.  Thanks for tuning in over the last six weeks on Facebook LIVE! Click the link below to tune in on my Facebook Artist Page.

TUNE IN THIS WEEKEND ON FACEBOOK LIVE

*photo credit: www.songwritingwithsoldiers.org
Pictured:  Meghan Counihan and Brittney Pfad, co-writers of "Brothers," with Mary Gauthier

Thank You!

As always, thank you for your support! We are wishing you all the best for a wonderful 2018!

~Mary

Handwritten Lyrics & Holiday Gifts

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Happy Holidays!

The first Christmas song I heard this season was playing as I stood in line for a latte at Starbucks on the road somewhere, a week before Thanksgiving. I thought it was too early in the season to be contemplating Rudolph's story of triumph over reindeer bullying!

I usually don't start contemplating Christmas until now - about two weeks out. I'll make my shopping list soon, and knock it out in a day or two, and will experience great joy in presenting the gifts soon after.

If you're anything like me, and still have some shopping to do, please consider the gift of Handwritten Lyrics or
a CD Bundle with a Mercy Now Dog Tag.

CLICK HERE TO VISIT THE MARY GAUTHIER STORE

If you have someone on your list that might enjoy something from my little world, it would be my great pleasure to ship that out to you this week.

I am busy hand-writing lyrics to my songs, bundling up my CDs into a single box and adding a Mercy Now Dog Tag, and shipping Mercy Now T-Shirts.

As always, I appreciate your support and encouragement, and I wish you love and patience during this Holiday Season!

~ Mary

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CLICK HERE TO ORDER HANDWRITTEN LYRICS

"Christmas In Paradise," - Mary Gauthier

HAPPY HOLIDAYS & WARM WISHES FOR 2018!

NPR Premiere: The War Before The War

The War After The War

Co-Written With Beth Neilsen Chapman, Ashleigh Smith, Robin Kaufmann, Rebecca Sakaki, April Rodriguez, Xemena Rozo
and Christina Coyle

CLICK HERE TO VIEW NPR PREMIERE

Happy Holidays!

Thanks for being on board! Things are starting to get exciting!
We are booking tour dates all over the world in advance of my new record,
Rifles & Rosary Beads, which will be officially released on January 26th, 2018.

To alI who’ve supported me on this journey so far, I thank you.

This morning, I’m releasing the second song,
The War After The War,
from my new album,
Rifles & Rosary Beads.

I wrote The War After The War at Boulder Crest Retreat Center in Bluemont, VA with
the great Beth Neilsen Champman and six EOD Veteran wives.

Every branch of the military has highly trained EOD warriors. These are the women and men who are trained bomb experts. The acronym EOD stands for Explosive Ordnance Disposal. They are called in to deal with bombs. These brave women and men suffer a high rate of PTSD and their spouses and families are often deeply affected by their wounds. The song begins with this line, "Who's gonna care for the ones who care for the ones who went to war?"

 Special thanks to Beth Neilsen Chapman and the EOD Veteran wives for co-writing this song, and to producers Neilson Hubbard and Josh Britt for the Video.

PRE-ORDER HERE AND RECEIVE "THE WAR AFTER THE WAR" TODAY

Bullet Holes In The Sky: Track and Video Premiere on Entertainment Weekly

CLICK HERE FOR ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY PREVIEW

November the 11th is Veterans Day in America
and Remembrance Day in the UK.

To alI who’ve served, and their families, I thank you.

I’m releasing the first song, Bullet Holes In The Sky,
from my new album,
Rifles & Rosary Beads, on Thursday, November 10th.

I wrote Bullet Holes In the Sky with
US Navy Desert Storm Veteran Jamie Trent.

Bullet Holes In The Sky was born when Jamie told me that Veterans get free breakfast at Waffle House on Veterans Day, with an active military ID. The song captures the thoughts of a Veteran sitting in a booth alone, watching the Veterans Day Parade roll by. The feelings deep inside the service member are complex, and difficult to express.

There is pride in being of service. Faith in God. Patriotism. 

Sorrow, for those who were lost.  And the feeling of being sadly resigned to the fact that these wars never end, and they just keep coming.
I hope you like the song.

A huge thank you to Jamie Trent, my co-writer, and to producers Neilson Hubbard and Josh Britt for the amazing Video.

To receive an immediate download of Bullet Holes In The Sky, pre-order a digital copy of Rifles & Rosary Beads at Amazon, iTunes or Apple Music beginning November 10th.

CLICK HERE TO PRE-ORDER

I Love You, America: November News

Mary Gauthier on "I Love You, America" with Sarah Silverman Airs 11/2, 6pm ET on HULU

Happy November!

I’m in full-blown new record pre-release mode! My new record, Rifles & Rosary Beads, is out January 26th, 2018 and contains eleven new songs, all co-written with Veterans and their families. As the project begins to move out into the world, it’s starting to get exciting.

I am thrilled to announce that Sarah Silverman invited me to be a guest on her new show called I Love You, America. The segment airs Thursday, November 2nd, at 6pm ET exclusively on HULU.

I flew to LA last week to tape the segment. I sat on the couch next to her and she interviewed me, and asked me to play parts of three songs. It turns out she loves sad songs, and I have a few to choose from! 

I'm not sure which ones will make the final cut, but I played March 11,1962 ( from The Foundling), Mercy Now (from Mercy Now), and Bullet Holes In the Sky (from Rifles and Rosary Beads, coming out January 26th, 2018).

We talked about how songs can be conduits for empathy and road maps into a stranger’s heart, which upon inspection - mirrors our own. I’ve long said that on the highest level songs help us know each other, and can plug us into the spiritual and sacred realm of faith, hope, compassion, mercy, charity, forgiveness and humility.

Through the alchemy of song, even sad songs create the feeling of connection because we are reassured that we are not alone. This connection is why singing the blues can make us feel better.

Sarah's show is all about a divided nation having hard discussions, and we talked about how songs can help those conversations along. We talked about Rifles & Rosary Beads, the Veterans record I am releasing in January, and how songs written with Veterans can become conduits for re-connection and Post Traumatic Growth.

The interview was over in a blur, and I was back in the car, headed to another town. Again, the air date is Thursday, 11/2 - streaming at 6pm ET exclusively on HULU.  Sarah will also put the show out in pieces on social media.

This Thursday's episode also includes the song "Somebody Broke Her," written and performed by Sarah and country singer Lee Thomas Miller. People will receive a downloadable version of it if they donate using this link: https://www.cfmt.org/ilyamerica, where 100% of proceeds support Las Vegas nonprofits helping with immediate and long-term needs of the victims. Preview the song here:

http://people.com/country/sarah-silverman-country-song-las-vegas-victims/

I’m really honoured to be a part of this conversation Sarah is having with America.

FOLLOW SARAH ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH MARY ON "I LOVE YOU, AMERICA" WITH SARAH SILVERMAN

VISIT SARAH'S WEBSITE FOR MORE UPDATES.

RIFLES & ROSARY BEADS contains eleven new songs, all co-written with Veterans and their families. If you pre-order it now, I will sign it for you, and it wil help me cover the cost of manufacturing and production. I'd sure appreciate your help with that.

PRE-ORDER HERE

WATCH OFFICIAL TRAILER

As always, thank you for being a part of my journey! ~ Mary

 

Pre-Order "Rifles & Rosary Beads:" New Album Out January 26, 2018

I was bound to something bigger
More important than a single human life
I wore my uniform with honour
My service was not a sacrifice
But what saves you in the battle
Can kill you at home

A soldier, soldiering on

- Soldering On (by Mary Gauthier and Jennifer Marino)

I have a new record coming out January 26th!
Rifles & Rosary Beads contains eleven new songs, all co-written with Veterans and their families.

If you pre-order it now I will sign it for you, and it will help me cover the cost of manufacturing and production. I’d sure appreciate your help with that.

CLICK HERE TO PRE-ORDER

Over the last four years, as many of you know, I’ve been thrilled to work closely with SongwritingWith:Soldiers, attending retreats all over the country and writing songs with service members. Writing with soldiers has changed me. I’ve learned the deeper meaning of service, sacrifice, and love. Co-writing with Veterans has helped me to see what songs do on a higher level, and pointed me to the best use of my songwriting gift.

Working with service members has made me a better listener, a better team member. It's been humbling. SW:S has given me an amazing opportunity to meet people I never would have met, and hear their stories, which have moved me deeply. It's connected me to people who have become like family to me.

The process of writing songs with them has been deeply therapeutic for me personally, and some of the Veterans feel the same way. But it's not therapy. It is empathy: the making of art.

Check out the video trailer for the record.

Thank you so much for your support!

Mary

World Unkind

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October News: Reaching Out In The Darkness

Life sure gets lonesome
And love is hard to find.
And the truth gets lost
in the telling.
In a world that's turned
unkind.
 
Ben Glover and I wrote this song earlier this year, and I feel "World Unkind" is appropriate to share with you today. Our hearts go out to all those involved in the Las Vegas tragedy.

We feel it is important to share our feelings of sadness and grief at this time, as well as to stand in solidarity with our family and friends in the Country Music Community.

We also feel that now is the time to reach out, and to speak up about what we are seeing and experiencing around us. We feel that this is not the time to remain silent, no matter how painful it might feel.

Like most of you, I worry every day about increased violence and more loss of life. The daily news is downright terrifying, with the recent violence in Las Vegas, attacks on protesters and natural disasters. The darkness is rising. But, as Edmund Burke said, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for the good to do nothing." Perhaps it's as simple as speaking out when you see something wrong, and saying "No, this is wrong."

I choose to look, to see, and to tell the truth about what I see. I will not be silent. I choose to stand with love, against hate.

History shows us over and over again that love and courage will save us from the spreading of darkness, not silence.

Let's find a way to raise our voices, to reach out to each other and to express ourselves, however painful, through song, through art, through dialogue, through service - whatever works best for each of us. We can visit people in hospitals, give blood, call senators or representatives, or gather with friends for a weekly dialogue about issues we are passionate about. We can bring food or water to those in need, we can express ourselves through song or art, or we can tell our stories or others' through poetry or theater or film.

Many are struggling now. People are lonely and feeling abandoned. If we can each find someone and reach them with love, the world becomes a better place, one step at a time. Our connections will become deeper as we share the deepest parts of ourselves. Together, by raising our voices through art and service and connection, we can move forward, with light, in the midst of darkness.

Click HERE or below to listen to "World Unkind." As always, thank you for being a part of my journey. ~ Mary

Mercy Now for Houston: Harvey's Helping Hands

This week marks the 12th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. As I see powerful images like this one from Hurricane Harvey, I am reminded of incredible humanitarian efforts in the midst of tragedy. I am reminded of the hope that brings us together during times of need. God bless the helpers, the givers, the first responders, and the ones who do not look away.

While the divisions in our country are deep, there’s one thing we can probably all agree on: when a natural disaster of Biblical proportions strikes and people are suffering, most people care, and want to help. The rains of Hurricane Harvey are still wreaking havoc on the gulf coast. Tens of thousands of families are in need, displaced, looking for shelter.

I have friends in LaGrange, Texas. 500 of the residents of LaGrange are now homeless because 10% of the homes are uninhabitable, due to massive flooding from Hurricane Harvey.

So many small towns are under water. Yesterday, there were waves with whitecaps on I-10 in southeast Texas, just south of Beaumont (pictured below).

However, this week a hero on a jet ski rescued a Texas grandmother from her living room (pictured at top of page).  Folks waited in long lines to volunteer. Thousands of people have been mobilized in one of the biggest rescue operations in history. Lives have been spared. People and pets have been saved.

If you want to help, CLICK HERE to visit a list of organizations compiled by the Houston Chronicle doing ground level work.

I personally sent some money to The Montrose Center.

Click HERE to watch the Katrina version of Mercy Now.

If we can just keep caring about each other, we might get through these times better for the struggle.

September is upon us. The light is changing. Summer is winding down. As I travel from town to town, talking to folks before and after shows, reflecting on the current state of affairs, I can’t help but wonder, how can I use my voice to make a difference, now?

There are no easy answers, but I will not be silent. That, I know for sure. Songs are coming, and I will sing my truth, as always.

As always, thank you for subscribing, I am grateful to have you on board. 

 

The Power of Two: 30 Years of Indigo Girls

The Power of Two: 30 Years of Indigo Girls

By Mary Gauthier, Guest Columnist
The Bluegrass Situation

Lesbian icons. When I was a kid, the mere thought of such a thing was laughable. I grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in the 1970s. There were no iconic gay women. Hell, there were no gay women, period. When I began to wonder if I was gay, I went to the library looking for lesbian authors. My research brought me to one book: Radclyffe Hall’s sad book, The Well of Loneliness. I read it, then landed on its predecessor, the bi-monthly mailed-in-a plain-brown-paper-wrapper-lesbian-newsletter, LC (Lesbian Connection). A nod to Hall’s 1928 book, the polite LC personals were called “The Wishing Well.” LC introduced me to “womyns” music. I loved the great Canadian folk singer Ferron, but as an angst-filled, queer, '70s teenager from the Deep South, I did not relate to much of the womyns music scene. I didn’t fit in there, either. I found myself listening to Southern folk singers like John Prine, Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt and other male songwriters whose words I felt close to. Imagine my surprise when I moved to Boston in my early 20s and heard the Indigo Girls for the first time on WUMB college radio. There was SOMETHING THERE for me, personally -- a brand new, yet deeply familiar sound. It resonated. I FELT it. Though I did not know it consciously, a part of me understood: Those voices were gay women from the South, like me. I parked my black Toyota restaurant truck in the driveway, turned the radio up loud, sat there stunned, and listened as the song played out. The sound infiltrated my soul. What was this, some kind of cosmic lesbian musical sorcery? Who were these people? They fucking rocked. The harmonies peeled back layers of scar tissue at my center, exposing a longing in me that I could not name. The song coming out of the radio was called "Strange Fire." Hearing it for the first time in my truck that evening literally hurt. I come to you with strange fire I make an offering of love The incense of my soil is burned By the fire in my blood Those harmonies landed like a déjà vu -- utterly familiar, but not at all known. The sound was pointing me to something vital about myself, but I did not know what it was. The alchemy evoked a buried self I had not yet met, the future songwriter in me, entombed in a personal Pompeii, frozen under layers of active drug and alcohol addiction. When the song ended, I turned off the radio, clenched the steering wheel, laid my head down, closed my eyes, and cried. I banged both hands on the wheel ... harder, then harder still. I was drunk, stoned, and tired of feeling alone. I had a hole in me that the call to songwriting had once upon a time tried to answer. But the call wasn’t even a memory anymore. I had put my guitar and musical longing aside, buried them both in a past I did not contemplate, and forgot about them. Women who did not (or could not) abide the compulsory rules of gender -- the sexualized female appearance tailored to the male gaze -- didn’t stand a chance in the real music business, right? I’d grown up, turned away from music. Made peace with 1 Corinthians 13:11: “When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.” I was a restaurateur now, a businesswoman, a CEO, a chef. I established and ran several restaurants. I had what thought I wanted. I was young and successful. But I felt empty. There was money, but it didn’t matter. I’d spent the last decade subconsciously flirting with death. I lived with a gaping hole in the center of my being that I poured booze and dope and romance and success and any other thing I could jam in there to deaden the pain, the sadness of an unlived life. I was lost, careening the wrong way down a one-way street. I did not know how to turn around. So I worked harder, tried to make more money, and became grandiose. Angry. I demanded that those around me work harder, too. We had to push the limits of what was possible. I was hoping to succeed my way out of the feeling of being lost. Somehow, the sound of that song on the radio saw me and called to me, but I couldn’t understand what it was telling me about myself. I could not make sense of the visceral response it released in my gut, even as the waves of emotion doubled me over. A few months later, I was arrested for drunk driving. The court sentenced me to mandatory rehab. I got sober. Soon after, I decided to find the source of those magical voices I’d heard on the radio. I called the station, described the song, and the DJ said they called themselves the Indigo Girls. I went to Tower Records and bought the record, Strange Fire. I went to see them perform at the Paradise, a Boston rock club. It was 1990. I was a few months clean and sober, and what I saw that night made me dizzy, weak, and queasy. The mostly female audience was screaming the singers' names, crying and shouting the words to the songs, as the two women on stage sang smiling, delighting in the raucous, carnival-like excitement. In short, the fans were out of their fucking minds. The scene that night was like the black and white footage of girls screaming for the Beatles in 1964. For the first time ever, I saw women jumping up and down and screaming at the top of their voices for women. It was pandemonium. No Well of Loneliness here, this was a grand public display of woman-loving-woman energy, a giant wave of out-ness that rode the waves of the music being played on stage, blasting through the house speakers. It blew my mind. I’d been out for years, so it wasn’t the queerness that freaked me out; it was something else. I could not name what was happening inside me, but I left early, after going into the bathroom, afraid I would literally be sick. My knees could barely hold me up. I was only a few months sober. I wasn’t even sure I saw what I had just witnessed. I was utterly confused. I loved the music, the passion, and the songs. What the hell was making me so queasy? I had no idea then that the pain of an unlived life was dropping me to my knees in the not-so-clean stall in the women’s room in the Paradise Rock Club. I went and saw them play again at the 1991 Newport Folk Festival. I’d listened to the Strange Fire record hundreds of times, and had just bought their self-named second record, Indigo Girls. The record had thrown off a smash radio hit, "Closer to Fine." The Indigo Girls became Newport headliners the summer I celebrated my first year of sobriety. As a gift to myself, I bought a ticket to the festival. The skies over Newport, Rhode Island, burst open with rain before the Indigo Girls took the stage, but I didn’t care. I found something to hold over my head. Maybe a stranger loaned me an umbrella? I don’t remember. What I do remember was the absolute joy I felt watching them with a full band, brilliantly and confidently take over the entire universe, as the rain came crashing down and rivers of water raced down the hill, magically splitting along both sides of my little island of safety. I had not felt joy like that since … maybe … ever. Gone was the upset in my gut, the confusing angst, even though the heightened emotions in the audience at Fort Adams State Park was like the Paradise Rock Club times 10,000. I was becoming one of the singing-along-out-loud fans. There were screaming, crying, lyric-shouting women as far as the eye could see and, this time, it made me smile. Song after song, women running up to the stage in tears reaching for them as security had to push back the surge. Beautiful young girls threw themselves and their passionate, hysterical love at the women on stage. It was amazing. I was witnessing a seismic shift in American culture, and in myself. The Indigo Girls went on to rule the Newport Folk Festival in the 1990s, appearing as headliners nine times in 10 years. They were stars and bona fide lesbian icons. I had no way of knowing that, a decade later, I’d be standing up on that very same stage myself. I was just beginning to feel the pull to my own music, dusting off the old guitar that had sat in my closet for so long. What I did know was that a door had opened. Things were different now, and the world wasn’t going to go back to how it was before. The Indigo Girls had shattered the glass ceiling, the ceiling that no “lesbian-looking lesbians” had been able to smash through before them. Soon, lesbian artist after lesbian artist made their way through the opening the Indigos created. I become one of them. I doubt I would have had the audacity to become a songwriter and take the stage without Amy and Emily laying the groundwork for up-and-coming artists. I owe them a huge debt and a heartfelt thank you. The spirit that flows through their music, and through all good music, contains much-needed truths that can help bring lost souls back home. In their highest form, songs are vibrations from a higher world, which humans have been given the power to channel. Songs are a gift, an offering, and an open exchange between singer and audience. Songs are emotional electricity and know no sexual preference, gender, race, nationality, or age. Some are more than just sweet melodies or sellable entertainment products. The most meaningful ones are powerful medicines that can connect us to ourselves, each other, and to the divine. They carry emotional truths that burn through time and space, touching something eternal. The songs of the Indigo Girls pointed me home to me, when I needed it most -- a date with destiny, by divine decree. By being authentic, Amy and Emily have pointed millions of other people home as well. Damn near everyone I know (straight and gay) has an Indigo Girls positive impact story. The world is a better, more inclusive place because of their music. So, I say with great joy, happy 30th anniversary to the Indigo Girls and to Strange Fire. You have done much for many, and we are better because of you and your music. -- Mary Gauthier THE ARTICLE APPEARS HERE AT THE BLUEGRASS SITUATION

Lesbian icons. When I was a kid, the mere thought of such a thing was laughable. I grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in the 1970s. There were no iconic gay women. Hell, there were no gay women, period. When I began to wonder if I was gay, I went to the library looking for lesbian authors. My research brought me to one book: Radclyffe Hall’s sad book, The Well of Loneliness. I read it, then landed on its predecessor, the bi-monthly mailed-in-a plain-brown-paper-wrapper-lesbian-newsletter, LC (Lesbian Connection). A nod to Hall’s 1928 book, the polite LC personals were called “The Wishing Well.”

LC introduced me to “womyns” music. I loved the great Canadian folk singer Ferron, but as an angst-filled, queer, '70s teenager from the Deep South, I did not relate to much of the womyns music scene. I didn’t fit in there, either. I found myself listening to Southern folk singers like John Prine, Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt and other male songwriters whose words I felt close to.

Imagine my surprise when I moved to Boston in my early 20s and heard the Indigo Girls for the first time on WUMB college radio. There was SOMETHING THERE for me, personally -- a brand new, yet deeply familiar sound. It resonated. I FELT it. Though I did not know it consciously, a part of me understood: Those voices were gay women from the South, like me. I parked my black Toyota restaurant truck in the driveway, turned the radio up loud, sat there stunned, and listened as the song played out. The sound infiltrated my soul. What was this, some kind of cosmic lesbian musical sorcery? Who were these people? They fucking rocked. The harmonies peeled back layers of scar tissue at my center, exposing a longing in me that I could not name. The song coming out of the radio was called "Strange Fire." Hearing it for the first time in my truck that evening literally hurt.

I come to you with strange fire
I make an offering of love

The incense of my soil is burned
By the fire in my blood

Those harmonies landed like a déjà vu -- utterly familiar, but not at all known. The sound was pointing me to something vital about myself, but I did not know what it was. The alchemy evoked a buried self I had not yet met, the future songwriter in me, entombed in a personal Pompeii, frozen under layers of active drug and alcohol addiction. When the song ended, I turned off the radio, clenched the steering wheel, laid my head down, closed my eyes, and cried. I banged both hands on the wheel ... harder, then harder still.

I was drunk, stoned, and tired of feeling alone. I had a hole in me that the call to songwriting had once upon a time tried to answer. But the call wasn’t even a memory anymore. I had put my guitar and musical longing aside, buried them both in a past I did not contemplate, and forgot about them. Women who did not (or could not) abide the compulsory rules of gender -- the sexualized female appearance tailored to the male gaze -- didn’t stand a chance in the real music business, right? I’d grown up, turned away from music. Made peace with 1 Corinthians 13:11: “When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.”

I was a restaurateur now, a businesswoman, a CEO, a chef. I established and ran several restaurants. I had what thought I wanted. I was young and successful. But I felt empty. There was money, but it didn’t matter. I’d spent the last decade subconsciously flirting with death. I lived with a gaping hole in the center of my being that I poured booze and dope and romance and success and any other thing I could jam in there to deaden the pain, the sadness of an unlived life. I was lost, careening the wrong way down a one-way street. I did not know how to turn around.

So I worked harder, tried to make more money, and became grandiose. Angry. I demanded that those around me work harder, too. We had to push the limits of what was possible. I was hoping to succeed my way out of the feeling of being lost. Somehow, the sound of that song on the radio saw me and called to me, but I couldn’t understand what it was telling me about myself. I could not make sense of the visceral response it released in my gut, even as the waves of emotion doubled me over.

A few months later, I was arrested for drunk driving. The court sentenced me to mandatory rehab. I got sober. Soon after, I decided to find the source of those magical voices I’d heard on the radio. I called the station, described the song, and the DJ said they called themselves the Indigo Girls. I went to Tower Records and bought the record, Strange Fire.

I went to see them perform at the Paradise, a Boston rock club. It was 1990. I was a few months clean and sober, and what I saw that night made me dizzy, weak, and queasy. The mostly female audience was screaming the singers' names, crying and shouting the words to the songs, as the two women on stage sang smiling, delighting in the raucous, carnival-like excitement. In short, the fans were out of their fucking minds. The scene that night was like the black and white footage of girls screaming for the Beatles in 1964. For the first time ever, I saw women jumping up and down and screaming at the top of their voices for women. It was pandemonium. No Well of Loneliness here, this was a grand public display of woman-loving-woman energy, a giant wave of out-ness that rode the waves of the music being played on stage, blasting through the house speakers. It blew my mind.

I’d been out for years, so it wasn’t the queerness that freaked me out; it was something else. I could not name what was happening inside me, but I left early, after going into the bathroom, afraid I would literally be sick. My knees could barely hold me up. I was only a few months sober. I wasn’t even sure I saw what I had just witnessed. I was utterly confused. I loved the music, the passion, and the songs. What the hell was making me so queasy? I had no idea then that the pain of an unlived life was dropping me to my knees in the not-so-clean stall in the women’s room in the Paradise Rock Club.

I went and saw them play again at the 1991 Newport Folk Festival. I’d listened to the Strange Fire record hundreds of times, and had just bought their self-named second record, Indigo Girls. The record had thrown off a smash radio hit, "Closer to Fine." The Indigo Girls became Newport headliners the summer I celebrated my first year of sobriety. As a gift to myself, I bought a ticket to the festival.

The skies over Newport, Rhode Island, burst open with rain before the Indigo Girls took the stage, but I didn’t care. I found something to hold over my head. Maybe a stranger loaned me an umbrella? I don’t remember. What I do remember was the absolute joy I felt watching them with a full band, brilliantly and confidently take over the entire universe, as the rain came crashing down and rivers of water raced down the hill, magically splitting along both sides of my little island of safety. I had not felt joy like that since … maybe … ever.

Gone was the upset in my gut, the confusing angst, even though the heightened emotions in the audience at Fort Adams State Park was like the Paradise Rock Club times 10,000. I was becoming one of the singing-along-out-loud fans. There were screaming, crying, lyric-shouting women as far as the eye could see and, this time, it made me smile. Song after song, women running up to the stage in tears reaching for them as security had to push back the surge. Beautiful young girls threw themselves and their passionate, hysterical love at the women on stage. It was amazing. I was witnessing a seismic shift in American culture, and in myself.

The Indigo Girls went on to rule the Newport Folk Festival in the 1990s, appearing as headliners nine times in 10 years. They were stars and bona fide lesbian icons. I had no way of knowing that, a decade later, I’d be standing up on that very same stage myself. I was just beginning to feel the pull to my own music, dusting off the old guitar that had sat in my closet for so long.

What I did know was that a door had opened. Things were different now, and the world wasn’t going to go back to how it was before. The Indigo Girls had shattered the glass ceiling, the ceiling that no “lesbian-looking lesbians” had been able to smash through before them. Soon, lesbian artist after lesbian artist made their way through the opening the Indigos created. I become one of them.

I doubt I would have had the audacity to become a songwriter and take the stage without Amy and Emily laying the groundwork for up-and-coming artists. I owe them a huge debt and a heartfelt thank you. The spirit that flows through their music, and through all good music, contains much-needed truths that can help bring lost souls back home.

In their highest form, songs are vibrations from a higher world, which humans have been given the power to channel. Songs are a gift, an offering, and an open exchange between singer and audience. Songs are emotional electricity and know no sexual preference, gender, race, nationality, or age. Some are more than just sweet melodies or sellable entertainment products. The most meaningful ones are powerful medicines that can connect us to ourselves, each other, and to the divine. They carry emotional truths that burn through time and space, touching something eternal.

The songs of the Indigo Girls pointed me home to me, when I needed it most -- a date with destiny, by divine decree. By being authentic, Amy and Emily have pointed millions of other people home as well. Damn near everyone I know (straight and gay) has an Indigo Girls positive impact story. The world is a better, more inclusive place because of their music. So, I say with great joy, happy 30th anniversary to the Indigo Girls and to Strange Fire. You have done much for many, and we are better because of you and your music.

-- Mary Gauthier

THE ARTICLE APPEARS HERE AT THE BLUEGRASS SITUATION

A Love Note From Buffalo | July Newsletter

A Love Note From Buffalo


Josh Geartz did it! He rode his wheelchair 422 miles to draw attention to the problem of Veteran suicide.

His goal was to draw attention to the ongoing suicide epidemic among Veterans:
22 Veterans a day are dying by their own hand.


Along the 422-mile ride from Indiana to New York, he completed over 40 media interviews, six television appearances, and met people in every town he rolled through.

As he rolled in to Buffalo, with his friend and fellow Veteran Roger behind him in the spare wheelchair, and Rob on a skateboard, a police escort in front of them, I was unexpectedly moved to tears.

In fact, I cried like a baby.

Have you ever cried because something is beautiful? It’s humbling, to bear witness to a human beings courage and devotion to others. The realization is primal, a deep knowing. This is what we are here for, what we humans are made to do: to help each other, love each other, and encourage each other.

Josh rolled in, took my heart in his hands, and opened it up wider.

Then Josh joined me on stage at The Sportsmens Tavern in Buffalo
and we played the song we wrote together through Songwriting With Soldiers called
"Still On The Ride."

When the show was done, and we were packing to leave, the bar phone rang.

Someone who’d seen Josh on TV decided to match the money he’d raised for SW:S ($16,000!). Tears again! A Hollywood ending to a day that gave me so many reasons to keep on believing: People are good, life has meaning, and service is its own reward.

You can continue to support Josh
and the many Veterans who can benefit from a Songwriting With Soldiers Retreat:

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT JOSH

Still On The Ride | Support Josh Geartz

Still On The Ride

Josh is riding in his wheelchair for 422 miles in June to raise money for Songwriting With Soldiers, the non-profit program he credits with saving his life.

He also wants to draw attention to the ongoing suicide epidemic among Veterans:
22 Veterans a day are dying by their own hand.

There will be plenty of media coverage along the way. The ride is a month long, and Josh will be able to be of service to hundreds of thousands of Veterans as he bravely proceeds down the highway in his chair.

I know the money will come, but he needs some upfront money to get him started.
Would you toss him some support?

A few bucks and a message of encouragement will go a long way right now.

I will join Josh at the end of his ride, for an early show at The Sportsman in Buffalo, NY on June 25th. We will come together to celebrate Josh’s efforts.

Josh and I will perform the song we wrote together, appropriately called "Still On The Ride." Here we are playing it together at a church gig in Ann Arbor a few months ago:

WATCH STILL ON THE RIDE

Thank you in advance for your help!

Lets send Josh off wrapped in a blanket of love!

SUPPORT JOSH

Ride The Peace Train | May 2017

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Ride The Peace Train

I’m hosting a musical train trip with Eliza Gilkyson & Gretchen Peters through some of the most stunning parts of Alaska this September.

Come join us September 13-18 as we roll through the breath-taking Kenai Peninsula and explore the music of the Great American Songbook, as well as our own songs.

We will be singing songs of freedom, songs of peace, and songs of struggle. Bring your guitar, three chords and the truth, and we’ll have a rolling hootenanny on the rails! 

Come solo, bring your spouse, bring your love interest, or bring your mamma. We’re going to make sure there’s plenty of laughter and good food. There will be Bald Eagles, Beluga Whales, Otters and Puffins. And I’m also looking forward to the conversation, communion, and camaraderie that comes when we ride the musical rails together.

The jaw dropping beauty of this most amazing place is a bucket list must see before the permafrost melts.  The time to see Alaska is now.

CLICK HERE TO RIDE THE PEACE TRAIN