Saturday, February 28, 2009

Generous Souls

Derek Sivers founded CDBaby, THE spot for indie artists to sell and market their CDs.

His latest projects are all focused on helping independent musicians. He is a very smart man -- with a lot to share. And he is immensely generous with his advice and his ideas. Sivers has a blog, marketing advice, inspiration, coaching and more.

Check out his offerings (most of them free) here: Derek Sivers web site.

Craig and I are recording on Sunday - hoping to have a new song to post on Monday.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Old Time Fiddlers and other culture

The Fiddlers will be jamming this weekend. Tonight (Friday) the gang will be at Leatherby's in Redding's Downtown Mall starting at 7. Enjoy ice cream and old time tunes.

On Sunday from 1-5, they will be toting their fiddles, guitars and basses to St. James Lutheran Church (just south of 44 on Shasta View) for their monthly jam. All are welcome - come on out to listen, play, or dance with some of the nicest folks around.

Also this weekend - Saturday from 10-6 at the Mount Shasta Mall you'll find the Cultural Fair - sponsored by the Shasta County Sherriff's department. Local groups will share info, perform dance and other demonstrations.

Let It Be Me

Craig and I have been working on Let It Be Me - such a sweet, simple love song.

This Everly Brother version is my favorite:

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Hair: Hall of Fame

The songwriting duo that created HAIR, Gerome Ragni and James Rado, will be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in June. Read the story here.

HAIR was an album I played to death as a teenager. There were a couple clunkers -- Good Morning, Starshine comes to mind -- but the musical was filled with a number of examples of masterful songwriting and clever lyrics.

One of my favorite songs was "Frank Mills." What amazed me then -- still does, actually -- is that the lyrics don't rhyme. They're poetic, thoughtful, visual and precise and the melody is sweet and soaring. The song just works in its own funky way. Love it when artists dare to step way outside the lines.

Hair was a milestone in musical theater - glad to see the creators honored. Here's the original Broadway version of Frank Mills:

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Songwriting advice from a pro

Vince Gill shares his songwriting advice with college students.

I found myself nodding my head when I read this:

"I think you have to be willing to write through some bad songs to get to a good one."

Read the article here.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

On, Comet!

Clear skies tonight may afford a great view of Comet Lulin as it passes. Check out the Sky and Telescope story for details on viewing.

We're big on sky watching in our family. Our youngest, Joe, was born when comet Hyukatake was clearly visible.

"The comet is amazing, you should see this," the midwife said when she arrived.

I was a little preoccupied, being in labor and all. But I considered it a good omen, and everyone who was at our house in the wee hours of March 24th, 1996, got to enjoy a spectacular star show and a good birth.

The baby was, for a time, saddled with the nickname: "Joe Comet."

Hoping for clear skies tonight.

Chico Songwriting Competition

Wild Oak Songwriters Guild is hosting a songwriting competition on March 10th -- winners will be eligible for a spot on a CD project.

Read the details at the Wild Oak Songwriter Guild website.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Facebook Fogies

Love this piece by Lev Grossman in TIME magazine:

Facebook is for Old People

Friday, February 20, 2009

Shasta County Landmark, No. 377

This song --with a chorus mostly in Hebrew -- is probably not destined to make its way to the country music charts, but some songs just beg to be written.

Alav Hashalom tells a bit of the story of California State Landmark No. 377 - The Pioneer Baby's Grave on Highway 299, near the historic town of Old Shasta.

From the web site: California State Historical Landmarks in Shasta County:

"NO. 377 PIONEER BABY'S GRAVE - Charles, infant son of George and Helena Cohn Brownstein of Red Bluff, died December 14, 1864. He was buried near land established by the Shasta Hebrew Congregation as a Jewish cemetery in 1857... Since there was no Jewish burial ground in Red Bluff, Charles' parents made the arduous journey to Shasta to lay their baby to rest. Concern for the fate of the grave led to the rerouting of Highway 299 in 1923."

I had driven past the marker many times, but I didn't know the story until I read about it in Doni Greenberg's column in the Redding Record Searchlight. The story haunted me, and when that happens, I write.

The song I began writing was called "Rest in Peace," but it never came together in a way that felt comfortable to me, so I set it aside. A couple of years later I came back to it, and the song I finished was "Alav Hashalom" -- Hebrew for "may he rest in peace."

Our daughter Annie plays fiddle on this one, it's on The Shadow of Shasta CD.

Alav Hashalom

music and lyrics © Erin Coombs Friedman

Cruel cold wind burns my face
Grief it burns my soul
On the wretched road to the holy place
Where I’ll let my baby go

Alav Hashalom
Cradled with his brethren
Alav Hashalom
In the arms of heaven
Alav Hashalom -- Alav Hashalom

I’ll not forsake my faith
Or lay my burden down
A mother’s love reveals its strength
On the road to Shasta town

I’ll lay my face upon his grave
Unto the earth reborn
Scarred and stained with river clay
I’ll journey evermore

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Redding is probably not on the intinerary, but

I still think this is good news.

Simon and Garfunkel are planning a tour. Read what little bit is known here.

Enjoy one of the best songs ever written, The Sounds of Silence:

Visual Thesaurus

I use an online rhyming dictionary and thesaurus much more often than I care to admit, and I just discovered this "Visual Thesaurus"

I haven't purchased it - but they allow you a couple trial searches for free. I love it, because it's EXACTLY how I think and how I work with ideas on paper and a terrific use of technology.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Diana Wallis at Vintner's Cellar

Singer-songwriter Diana Wallis will bring her original rockin' bluesy tunes and well-chosen covers to Vintner's Cellar this Friday evening (Feb 20) starting at 6:30.

Vintner's Cellar is a perfect venue - enjoy wine, goodies and the elegant, respectful atmosphere that Jana and Alan Leard have created. More info on the winery, click here.

Diana and I are doing some co-writing these days - her guitar skills amaze me - and we're having a great time working together.

Listen to some of Diana's tunes at her myspace page.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Fiddlin' and Pickin': Saturday in Redding

The Annual Amateur Fiddle and Flatpick Contest will be held on Saturday, February 21st at St. James Lutheran Church at 2500 Shasta View Dr., and admission for spectators is free.

The contest, produced and hosted by District 6 California State Old Time Fiddlers Association, draws area fiddlers and guitar players of all ages, who compete for awards in various divisions, including the popular Twin Fiddle and Open divisions.

Contest registration begins at 7 AM and fiddling and picking gets underway at 8. The event concludes at 7:30 in the evening with the awards ceremony.

For a schedule, rules and a printable flyer, visit , or contact: Nicki Carlisle: 530-474-4427.

Not a player? Come on out and and enjoy the music -- you'd be hard-pressed to find a nicer group of musicians anywhere. The music is lively and the price is right.

To get you in the mood: Fiddle great Jana Jae (formerly of Redding and instrumental in establishing the fine fiddling tradition here in the North State) takes a ride on the Orange Blossom Special

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Romantic Songs -- Dear ol' Boz

We're spending Valentine's Day weekend with my sister, Nora, and her husband, JB -- just about the cutest couple that Love invented.


They're newlyweds, celebrating their one year anniversary next week. Makes me feel a little nostalgic for the old days -- 1977 -- the year Craig and I met. Our Song was Boz Scagg's We're All Alone.

Way back then, you couldn't put a CD on "repeat" - you had to pick up the needle at the end of the album or flip the tape over - good lord, this was even before auto-reverse tape decks.... I think lovers have it easier now -- nobody needs to get up to fix the music.

Here's a Youtube of We're All Alone. The live version makes me realize that Dear Boz had a voice meant to be managed by recording engineers.....

So what's Your Song? -- The one that takes you back? C'mon - it's Valentine's Day. No better reason to dust off that old album and rekindle that old flame.

Nora and JB's first dance was to You Make Me Feel So Young -- here 'tis. Enjoy. Feel young.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Song for Valentine's Day

I suppose eventually I'll write a love song for Valentine's Day - a sweet, sentimental confessional.

But for now, Heart Shaped Stones will have to suffice. Even though it's not a traditional romantic ballad, it's been played on local radio (KFPR) as part of their Valentine's Day programming. It's on our recent CD, Sacramento River Whispers.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Elizabeth Gilbert on Creative Genius

I'm a big fan of Elizabeth Gilbert, author of The Last American Man and Eat, Pray, Love. I'm especially impressed by this talk she gave on artists, inspiration and reevaluating the way we treat our creative selves.

I know, I know, it's 20 minutes long - you can put it on in a background window and get some things done while you listen. Wonderfully wise stuff.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Music this week

Everyone is welcome on Wednesday (Feb. 11) afternoon at the Redding Homeschool Network Family Jam and Sing-Along. Bring your voices, your grandmas and grandpas, your instruments and sing along with us at 1:30 in the children's section of the Redding Main Library.

On Friday evening, Feb. 13, enjoy Old-Time Fiddle music with District 6 fiddlers at Leatherby's Ice Cream Parlor in the Downtown Mall. This popular event gets underway at 7, and you can look forward to some foot-stompin' good time music. To get you in the mood, here's a Youtube video -- Bill Monroe and his Bluegrass Boys.

Monday, February 9, 2009


Sometimes when we are rehearsing, I have trouble concentrating.

Today I blamed all my mistakes on Joe and his Hot Wheels contraption:

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Tom Paxton: Lifetime Grammy Award

Lovely piece by J. Freedom du Lac on singer-songwriter Tom Paxton, who talks candidly about his long, fascinating folk music career that began in the coffeehouses of New York.

At the Washington Post website.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Making lemonade

Everybody's doing it, apparently: Writing songs that comment on these troubling economic times.

From the Wall Street Journal: No dough in the Do-Re-Mi

In the news

The Redding Record Searchlight published a full-page story on Still Married in last Thursday's edition.

Here's the link: Musician Spotlight

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

American Dreamers

Like many people, I've been caught up in the inspiring stories and the tidal wave of enthusiasm of the past few weeks. Every songwriter is required by law to write at least one anthem -- this new song is probably as close as I will get to compliance.

American Dreamers is available as a free download on our website. And Craig (bless his heart) offered enough musical input to get co-writer credit.

American Dreamers

words and music © Erin and Craig Friedman

She remembers the view from the back of the bus
She remembers the words to We Shall Overcome
She remembers that long march on Washington
She’s an American Dreamer
And she loves dreaming again

He served in Iraq -- a proud US Marine
When came back, his factory job was overseas
But this hard-working man will roll up his sleeves
He’s an American Dreamer
And he loves dreaming again

American Dreamers believe
The American dream lives and breathes
Hear freedom ring throughout the land
When American Dreamers join hands

Banners wave – change is blowin’ in the wind
American grace keeps her promises
The best we can be is where it begins
It begins with American Dreamers
We love dreaming again

American Dreamers believe
The American dream lives and breathes
Hear freedom ring throughout the land
When American Dreamers join hands

Our website: click here.

FiddleGrams - My favorite gig

For the past couple years, I've helped the Old Time Fiddlers deliver FiddleGrams on Valentine's Day.

What a kick!! -- It is a grand group of musicians, exquisitely organized by the talented and ever-enthusiastic Tricia Ferguson, who fiddles and sings with all her heart.
What makes it My Favorite Gig ?

  • An entire office filled with gals wiping tears from their eyes as we sing and play "Could I Have This Dance."

  • Patrons at a diner grinning from ear-to-ear as we serenade the sweet little gal in charge with "Let Me Call You Sweetheart."

  • The elderly lady who positively beamed as we sang the personalized lyrics her stepson provided.

Every delivery was unique - offered joyfully and received graciously. This year, FiddleGrams will be delivered in the Redding area on Friday, February 13th, and I can think of no better way to celebrate Valentine's Day -- bearing good tidings to smiling faces all over town.

FiddleGrams are a major fundraiser for our non-profit group, California State Old Time Fiddler's Association, District 6, and they're available year round. Fiddlers will play and sing and present your sweetheart with a card and a rose - all for only $35.

To schedule a FiddleGram, call Tricia Ferguson: 530-241-6265

CSOTFA website: click here.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Questions for artists, writers and others....

My theory is that everyone who creates is nagged by doubts. Sometimes it's a paralyzing shout, sometimes it's a critical whisper -- but the devil lives on the artist's shoulder.

But Craig disagrees - he thinks that most artists are not consumed by doubts, that they must be confident in order to produce.

I realize it's extremely subjective, but here's my survey for artists, writers and other creative types:

How much negative press do you get from your psyche? What do you do about it?

I realize that admitting to self-doubt is not a highly-recommended marketing tool, so feel free to leave anonymous comments.