Taking life as it comes…

 

I had the great joy of participating as an artist in this year’s Kent Creativity Festival at Kent State University this year. I was delighted when they had accepted my proposal to have a simple, mini songwriting booth, but when the big date arrived I was overcome with anxiety: “What right did I have? What do I even have to offer these participants anyways? This is going to be a disaster!!! What was I thinking?”

Shortly after I’d set up my outdoor “studio,”a young student named Josie stopped by to do an audio-recorded interview about my “art activity.” We had a nice discussion about the connection between art and health, or in my case, the direct connection between my songwriting and my mental health history. The one question that made me think was this: “What would be my measure that this activity was a success today?”

I guessed that I’d measure the successes by the smiles of the people who walked away inspired by the songwriting we did in the 5 minutes we shared that morning.  Or perhaps the twinkle in the eye of a child(or even an adult) who believed for the first time they could DO THIS! If that is my measure, this activity was a splendid success! Parents, kids and grandparents…uncles and aunts….toddlers, teens, college students, and townsfolk all walked away with smiles,  while holding their new little songwriting notebook!!

My thoughts about yesterday’s event lead me back to a favorite Maya Angelou quote:

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The most important thing about yesterday wasn’t some 4 point presentation for better songwriting, or whether or not I had extensive brochures and handouts, or even the best banner to draw attention to my activity over others. And it wasn’t really about them remembering what I said… it’s about how they felt as they were in the process of creating a song, unique to their story. It was about the sense of pride they took away having accomplished this, and the laughter we shared as we set their creation to rhythm using children’s percussion instruments. It felt fulfilling, and I went home feeling satisfied.  Thank you so much to each and every little group that participated yesterday. I know many left encouraged by the experience, but please truly know, that I was the one inspired… by all of you!

 

On the gig side: We are getting more and more calls from area coffeehouses to play gigs!! Please check back frequently for updates to our Upcoming shows link on the top menu, as well as our Facebook fan page for the latest, most updated news as it comes in:

**********Two gigs on October 14th**************

10/14- Debord Halloween Festival at Lock 3 in Akron (acoustic Stage) at 2pm-3pm

10/14-Cafe O’Play in Stow, Ohio from 5:30-7:30

November 2nd- Morning Owl Coffeehouse in Munroe Falls, Ohio

 

See you out and about! Thank you for supporting us and our music-making!

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The Blessing of Friendship…

Right in the middle of planning our church’s first ever Open Mic night, I found myself hospitalized for 5 days with an infection in my right hand!! I was miserable… not just because of the infection, but because I was no where near ready for the event that would happen within a week of my stay. I feared it was just not going to happen…

Then the blessing… I am overwhelmed by the number of friends and church family that rallied to make the event a success! What a blessed night we had with all kinds of music from a number of artists both young and…well… not so young ;)… We hope to do this more regularly, as local & budding musicians need a place like this to share their heart through their music.  So much talent here in Northeast Ohio, and I appreciate the work of artists like Gary Hall and Diana Tyler, whose Open Mic nights inspired me to try it at my own church. Thanks for all you do!

The busy season is upon us: THIS SATURDAY April 15th at 5:30pm, Jason and I will be at Cafe O’play in Stow, Ohio. Enjoy the heart healthy menu choices and coffee bar, while the kids enjoy the separate, glass enclosed play area for the happy hour price of $6.50! The coffeehouse side of Cafe O’play is perfect for a date night, or for a group of music-loving friends to relax and unwind. Hope to see you there!

Then on Easter Sunday at 8:30am, I will be in Silver Lake, Ohio for a gorgeous lakeside service with the Church in Silver Lake. Such a beautiful way to start off the Resurrection celebration! Afterward at 10:30am, I look forward to worshipping with my own church family at the Chapel at Tinker’s Creek in Streetsboro, Ohio, and participating in our annual tradition of the “blooming cross.”

 

May 4th at 7pm I return to the Morning Owl Coffeehouse in Munroe Falls ,Ohio for a solo show! So mark your calendars!

There have been a number of requests for a recording of my latest song “Mama’s Whispers!” The interest is so great that we are considering releasing it as a single!! Look for more news on that in the coming months…

Once again, thank you for the love and support you all give to us! Your prayers and words of encouragement buoy my spirits during these anxious days, waiting for Deklan’s graduation day.

Carry on and take care!

jtb

Legacy of Love

Today my Grandma Gertie would have been 95 years old! We miss her dearly… her infectious laughter, unconditional love, and incredible faith were a cornerstone in our family.  Five and a half years have passed since she went to her Savior in heaven, and her legacy is no less intact…even her great-grandchildren carry her love and laughter with them.  My picture this month captures a beautiful moment of joy my Grandma, my Father, and my first born son shared more than 16 years ago.  I cherish it, and her memory.  Happy Birthday Grandma Gertie!

Happy Gertie Piicture

This month the guys and I are excited to make our 2016 debut at Cafe O’Play in Stow on Saturday February 20th from 6-8pm!! We will be playing most of our usual, light rock and inspirational favorites mixed in with some of my original music.  With a cozy coffee house atmosphere on one side and a separate, supervised kids play area on the other, this would be a fantastic place for a Family Fun night with the kids or a date night with your loved one! And even better news: Cafe O’play will be offering the Happy hour prices for admission to the play area from 5:30 to close! That’s half off regular price!  And… if you want to bring the kids earlier than 5:30… they will still take $2 off their regular price if you use my special phrase: Love wins!  Just tell that special phrase to the cashier when you pay for the admission and she will give you the discount!!! I hope to see as many of you there as possible! Let’s make this a special night for these small business owners, and fill the place!

That’s all for now! Thanks for supporting our music and for supporting these small business owners with your patronship!

Forever in His grip,

jtb

 

 

Wrapping up another year…

It has been a whirlwind year… Some great moments, and some… not so great… A lot of personal struggles and loss, and some personal victories.

 

I remembered this chorus to a song we sang in choir way back in the 1990’s at Parkway High School:

“For as long as I have music, as long as there’s a song for me to sing… I will find my way, I will see a brighter day. The music in my life will set my spirit free..”

I thank God for the gift of music, and for music educators like Nancy Farrell who taught us so passionately about music.  It’s music that has been the medium for my recovery, and as I continue to battle bouts of depression in my life, I find myself grateful for the support of family and friends with my music.  Whether it’s coming to my shows, words of encouragement on Facebook, or simple acts of kindness and prayers, I am truly blessed by my supporters.

This Sunday Kenny, Jason and I are at Cafe O’Play from 12:00pm to 2:00pm.  This is our last gig of 2015…the last chance for a few months to see us in action!! Then we are taking a few months to reflect and, Lord-willing, write some new songs! 🙂

With everything going on in the world, my heart is overwhelmed with emotion.  I hope to capture some of that as I continue with my songwriting.  For now, my prayers remain with all of  those being affected by the violence across the world.   May our hearts be ruled by mercy as we contemplate our role in the current crises across the globe.

Take care…and God bless!

 

jtbIMG_2325

 

Let’s hear it for Fall!!

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It’s a beautiful day here in Northeast Ohio! Clear blue skies…optimal temperatures…leaves are just beginning to turn…and sooner than we know it ( or even want it) the Christmas decorations will be gracing the department store aisles!

It’s so hard to hang on to the “present”; the pressures to think ahead, get ahead, and stay ahead squeeze out the enjoyment of living that present moment.  Something I learned a long time ago, and too often forget is this: “The present moment is the only reality we ever really experience.”

So maybe I need to enjoy watching my son thrive in his freshman year in high school, instead of worrying about him being accepted to the college of his choice four years from now! Or maybe I can begin to appreciate the twinkle in my older son’s eyes as he talks about his first girlfriend and meticulously prepares to take her to homecoming, instead of worrying about his wedding someday.   There is something to be said for preparing your kids for the things they will see and experience in their adult lives… but not at the expense of that precious, present moment where life really exists.

In that  same spirit, I hope to capture the present in my own story.  Over the next two months, I have four shows!  I am overwhelmed by the response to the show at Cafe O’play last month, and I’m looking forward to seeing many of you  at one of these October shows…

On October 9th, from 8pm-11pm… we will be returning to the Blue Rock Cafe in Hudson, Ohio! The gang will all be there! Kenny, Jason, and I are excited for the chance to play at an establishment that is so supportive of local musicians! (And the fact that they have THE best Reuben sandwich ever doesn’t hurt either!) This is the perfect atmosphere for a date night or girls’ night out! (Please note the $5 cover charge, all of which goes to the musicians…)

The next day (October 10th @ 2pm) we will be playing at the locally renown Debord Halloween Festival.  Essentially this is a great big Halloween party, with all kinds of vendors, activities and, of course, live music on two stages.  It is FREE to attend, and people are encouraged to dress up in costumes and bring their kids for all the fun! Located in Hardesty Park in Akron Ohio

Later in the month, on October 24th @ 7pm, we get the privilege of playing in Burton, Ohio, where it all started for me… Coffee Corners in downtown Burton!  This quaint shop has become a hub for many musicians in this area!  With a full coffee and tea bar, sweet treats, and local wines, this is an ideal atmosphere for a date night! Come and enjoy the warmth and coziness of this gem nestled in scenic Geauga County!

That’s October in a nutshell… We will be closing out the 2015 schedule on November 22nd for a special afternoon show at Cafe O’play in Stow.  Put it on your calendar… More info on that one later…

That’s all for now! Enjoy the present moments in your life and help me to do the same by coming to one of these events! You WILL enjoy yourself! Besides, don’t we all deserve a little fun once in a while!

Thank you all!

JTB

PS  My  charming husband put some videos on you tube of two new originals that we did at Art in the Park! Look for the link in the side bar if you are interested…

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Do the next thing…

This has been a busy summer.  Last month, my family enjoyed an unforgettable vacation to Washington, D.C. and Ocean City, Maryland, with my mother. We had a fantastic time!  Then we took a three day tour to some of the sites in the Greater Cleveland area with my dad towards the end of the month.  Of course, my personal favorite is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but I’m amazed at the number of totally cool things Cleveland has to offer.  I’m proud to call Northeast Ohio my home, and I can’t imagine being anywhere else!

Now we come back to reality… last week I lost my Grandma, Betty, to cancer.  I am so happy that she finally gets to see her reward in heaven, and see the face of our loving Father, into whose Hands she committed her life many years ago.  But I miss her.  She was my hero, my Mary Poppins- “Practically perfect in Every way.”  I love her dearly and her death is hitting me very hard.  I’ve cried each and every day since she has passed.

God is good.  He sees my every tear and knows their true purpose for me.  Through all of this I look more fervently to Him and He comforts me. ..and He gives me new songs that soothe my heart.

Over the next couple of months, I have some big events coming up.  I hope to share some of these new songs at my shows, and it would mean so much to me to have the support of friends and loved ones.  This Saturday the 22nd at 6pm I will be at Cafe O’Play in Stow Ohio for the first time. I am hoping to see many families there! it’s a great place for a family fun night!

Next month I will be at Art in Park in Kent, Ohio, for the first time.  This is an annual gathering that celebrates artists from all over North east Ohio and I’m proud to be a part of the music line-up. There are vendors and tents with all kinds of art and crafts available for purchase… or admiration :). We will be playing a short set at 10am on Saturday September 12th.  I look forward to seeing you  there!

That’s all for now… my feature picture this month is of my grandma, Betty Anspach. I took this picture just a couple of years ago when I saw her in Florida.  When I looked at it later, it was the very first time I realized something important: My Grandma was proud of me. You can see it in her face in this picture. I will cherish it and that moment forever.

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Thanks for your support!

jtb

 

Life is what happens…

“Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans…”

That famous line from a Beatles’ song completely captures my  life this summer so far…

I am now the mother of TWO high school boys! I am so proud of them; they are growing into fine young men. As I watch them begin to think about their future plans, I think about where I was at their ages–the thoughts I was thinking.  It was a lifetime ago, and worlds of experience lie between that time and today.  I’m excited for them and their dreams…and scared.  I cherish the time I have with them NOW more than ever, and most of my time is focused on them right now…

On the music front, I continue to squeeze in a little time to write song new songs. It’s such a therapeutic release for some difficult emotions… I look forward sharing new songs at my summer shows…

I’ve added two new shows to my schedule this summer including a new venue.  August 22nd at 6:00pm will be my debut performance at the Cafe O’play In Stow, Ohio.  It is a family friendly venue that has a wonderful play area for kids while adults can enjoy cafe style entertainment and service.  I am excited to be a part of this positive local business and can’t wait to see as many of you as possible!! Bring your kids and let’s pack the place!

My next show will be at Coffee Corners in Burton, Ohio, on July 18th at 7:00pm.  This is where I got started playing in public places and I’m grateful for the chance to play there again… They feature a full coffee bar with pastries, cheesecake, and, of course, local wines.  Schedule a date night with the hubby or have a girls night out!  This charming shop is a rare gem and well worth the drive to Burton.

Well that’s all for now! Keep “fighting the good fight!”

We will see you this summer!!

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jtb