Tobias the Cat and the Thomas Fire, a 2020 Election Parable

When the Thomas Fire hit Southern California, we were in Chile, in a remote valley eight hours from the nearest airport, with no cell service and wifi that disappeared when the generators turned off at midnight. I’ve written elsewhere about the flood of frantic texts and voicemails, the panicked calls to our kids and to the friend who was pet-sitting, and the long trek home to the devastation.

But I want to tell you about the cat. The cat is a parable, as we are weeks away from the Presidential Election of 2020, and days after the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. So please bear with me as I explain.

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Music for Shut-Ins

 

Hello! I've been teaching songwriting for quite a few years now, and I love doing it. Right now I need to be doing something that makes me feel I'm contributing to the world.

I've gone through my notes and rethought how my classes could work online. I've got a bunch of new ideas that I can't wait to try because it's fun to teach, it's heartening to connect with other humans, and I cannot watch Law & Order SVU all day every day.

So I've tried this out with some friendly volunteers to hash out the quirks of teaching online, and it's gone great! Here are the three classes I've come up with:

How Songs Work -- For non-musicians or songwriters who'd like a refresher of the basics. Join in a small online group once a week with singer-songwriter Rain Perry to listen to great music, learn about rhyme and rhythm and get a crash course in the history of rock and roll.

Start The Damn Song -- Making yourself sit down and write is half the battle. Don't do it alone! Join Rain and friends online for clever and fun songwriting prompts to kick your songs into gear.

Finish The Damn Song -- for songwriters at any level who need focused and supportive feedback to finish their songs-in-progress. Each session, we'll hash through whatever each student is working on and see if we can get those songs completed once and for all. We will also have a surprise special guest from time to time!

Each class runs for one hour and they are all free as long as we're quarantined, with a catch. To join the class, you have to make a donation (of any size your budget allows) to a worthy organization of your choice that is helping people in your community affected by COVID19 or suffering economic fallout from the quarantine. Show me the receipt and the class is yours.

Click the title of the class you like to sign up. Space is limited so it doesn't get unworkable in an online format. Questions? Email me! rain at rain perry dot com.

 

 


I don't tour.

It's been awhile since I posted an essay!

In the midst of the CD release extravaganza that's going on at my house, I'd like to take a moment to explain about a quirk of my musical career; the reason that I probably won't be coming to a live venue near you.

But first: check it out! It takes a village to release an album, and here's a bunch of wonderful people at a package-stuffing-pizza-party the other night.

Mailing Party!

All the rewards are going in the mail this week to the fine people who pledged to make this record Let's Be Brave happen. All the promo packages are heading out to 100 folk & community radio stations across the country. Borne from the Thomas Fire and the metaphorical fires we're all facing, with a full-on commitment to resilience, I'm so proud of this album and excited to share it with the world.

Meanwhile, I am gearing up for the big CD release party I'm doing in Ojai. I've got a killer band - eight of us - and I'm so excited to get to perform the album with its full orchestration. (Tickets here.)

So, here's the deal.

 

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In and of Itself is Dead. Long live In and of Itself.

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A singer-songwriter’s elegy for a “magic show.”

Derek Delgaudio’s one man play/magic show/indefinable theatrical experience In and of Itself closes on August 19, and I am really bummed out about that. I don’t know him, I don’t have any connection to the play, but I’m sitting across the country with a weird sense of mourning. At the same time, I also feel an expanding feeling of possibility and even duty to make what I’ve learned from it live on.

I’ve seen In and of Itself four times — more than I’ve seen most bands, let alone most plays — and I’d go again if I could make it work. I would really love to be there for the last night to see how he ends it. And I’m hardly alone. Many people have spoken glowingly about this play, and some of its most vocal fans are fellow artists, including Ru Paul, Mark Hamill, Judd Apatow, Laurence O”Donnell, John Mulaney, Mike Bribiglia, Larry Wilmore, Bebe Neuwirth, Amanda Palmer & Neil Gaiman. Stephen Colbert described sitting in the theater with “a still layer of air around me that I didn’t want to disturb.”

 

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Springsteen, Bowie & DelGaudio are Tricking You

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I talk about myself all the time: “Rain Perry is a Southern California folk rock singer-songwriter who wrote the theme song to blah blah blah…” I’m good at it. I’ve thought long and hard about the right way to describe – and promote – myself as a concept. And as the record industry has imploded, I’ve also wrestled with painful questions about who I am now. Is one’s value as an artist contingent on how many people experience one’s art?

 

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Keanuville Video

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Between now and June 19, I'm going to post a series of behind-the-scenes stories about my music. I thought I'd start with the project for which I did my very first Kickstarter, back in 2010: the video for my song "Keanuville."

Also: Bill & Ted 3 is in production! Did you know June 9 is Bill & Ted day?

#1: Keanuville video

"Keanuville" is about an obsessed fan I met at a Dogstar concert. (Yes, I went to see the grunge band Dogstar, featuring Keanu Reeves on bass. But the song is not about me, I swear.)

"Keanuville" is the true-life tale of a middle aged woman who's seen Dogstar over a dozen times. Here's the amazing Sasha Heslip as The Fan.

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Open Letter to Neil Portnow

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Dear Neil,

Yesterday you said that in order to win more Grammys, "women who have the creativity in their hearts and souls, who want to be musicians, who want to be engineers, producers, and want to be part of the industry on the executive level" need to "step up" professionally.

I am so relieved you cleared this up. I thought if I just felt creative, I'd automatically have a career.

Oh wait - I did start my own label and have released four albums and a documentary film through its imprint. I joined NARAS as soon as I was qualified. Is that what you mean by stepping up?

And then today you apologized, talking again about outreach to women who "dream of careers" in the industry.

Look, Neil, I'm not sure what planet you're living on, but you've got an industry already full of women who have careers, who are fighting for respect and professional acknowledgement. Those women have now been told by the head of their professional organization - to which they pay their hard earned dues - that he doesn't really even understand they are there.

Since you "don’t have personal experience of those kinds of brick walls," let me help by putting up one of my own. I hereby rescind my membership in NARAS and am encouraging my fellow female members to do so too. I'm not interested in investing in an organization that is so deeply clueless about the reasons women struggle for parity in their industry.

Sincerely,

Rain Perry

 

 

 

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After the Fire

Precipitous Records headquarters, before and after:

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It's really incredible to me that the post I put up before this one was called "Crossroads." I just reread it, and it really couldn't be a better prologue to a post about the fire.

(and heads up: for whatever reason, the formatting in this piece is just weird - and that's appropriate, I guess.)

 

 

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Crossroads

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Sometimes -- like for the past couple days -- I find myself obsessively refreshing Twitter and Facebook. I know I'm doing it for no good reason. I spent the time and resources to attend a half dozen music conferences this year and have a ton of followup work to do, but I have to fight myself to get it done.

By now I also know this means something's up that I haven't yet figured out.

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#MeToo

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I'm in Iowa City at FARM-Folk, the Folk Alliance Region Midwest music conference, to screen The Shopkeeper and do some showcases, and I thought to write a post about the music I'm hearing and the nice people I'm meeting and the drive from Kansas City yesterday through the cornfields of Missouri and Iowa. But the thing I've been thinking about the most - and posting on social media about the most - is "#MeToo." So that's what I'm going to write about today, but it's going to work its way back to music at the end of the post.

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