Thursday, December 30, 2010

This Year's Word: Forge

This year I'm taking Christine Kane's advice. Kane is a singer-songwriter, and, according to her website: "Mentor to Women who are Changing the World." Kane suggests that instead of making (and breaking) resolutions, we choose a single word for the year - a "word that can guide you to take action." She explains it eloquently on her website: Christine Kane.

I considered what's coming up this year, and I've settled on my word for 2011: "Forge." I'm intrigued and inspired by the image of a fiery cauldron that transforms and creates with the power of heat.

Songwriting -- when I do it right -- requires figuratively going into the flames, wallowing in the embers and ash and coming out with something new and interesting. The process is not pretty or fun and often heavy sweating is involved. The music project I'm working on for 2011 will require a fair amount of time in the fire, and I'm ready.

In these wicked challenging economic times, our business model needs to forge ahead: evolve, grow and change. It will require forging something exciting and new from something old. Not sure what or how. But, hey, those aren't my words this year. ;-)

And dealing with our children as adults - or almost adults - requires forging new ways of parenting and being in the world with them. Not quite as challenging as transforming iron into hardened steel, but sometimes it feels pretty close.

So - as I forge into the New Year, I look forward to seeing how this word guides and inspires me. And I'm wondering if you have a word for 2011. Tell, please....

Whatever your words, your plans and your dreams are for the New Year, I hope your days are filled with love and joy and peace.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Have Yourself a Local Little Christmas

It's unique, it's local, it's inexpensive. And heck, we've arrived at Countdown Time and those stockings simply must be stuffed. Why not stuff them with local music and support our local art community, too?

For original country-folk tunes, all of our Still Married CDs are available at Wrap-N-Pack in Redding and on

The North State is home to a wide variety of artists and you can find a selection of CDs at:

Bernie's Guitar -3086 Bechelli Ln, Redding
The Gift Store at Turtle Bay

On you'll find Chuck McCabe's tribute song: "I'd Rather Be in Redding" on his critically acclaimed album "Creatures of Habit." Great stuff there, including the sweet, poignant "My Prayer for You."

From Chuck McCabe's song:

"My prayer for you
That you may do
What makes you laugh
What makes you new"

And may your Christmas be filled with sounds and songs that make you smile.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

It's All About Butter

It's that time, again....a post from last year:

The freezer is cleared out in preparation for my annual holiday ritual: The Stockpiling of the Cookie Dough.

I make about 70 pounds of this shortbread dough in December -- we give away most of the cookies - to customers, friends, roving bands of neighborhood teens. It's my favorite holiday recipe because it's SO simple and still so amazingly good.

You can roll the dough out, cut out fancy shapes. You can decorate them or drizzle them with melted chocolate. But I prefer them plain, naked -- pure, simple perfection.

I started with a recipe from Jeremiah Tower -- but I added vanilla to it and played with the baking time, so I consider it mine, now.

Feel free to consider it yours:

Christmas Shortbread Cookies

1 pound butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups flour

Cream butter, sugar and vanilla. Mix in flour. Form dough into logs and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least one hour. (Logs can be frozen.) Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Slice dough and place slices on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for thirty minutes.

The cookies should be pale, not browned - so keep an eye on them, as oven temperatures vary.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Free Christmas Download

These years are starting to run together a bit...tonight is Christmas Movie and Latke Night at our house.

It's about this time each year that we prescribe a little R & R for ourselves. It involves champagne and movie-watching. The movie is always the Frank Capra classic It's a Wonderful Life.

It's sappy-but-sweet and we've watched countless times. Craig and I and the kids have committed most of the dialogue to memory - and snippets of it have become part of our family shtick.

"Where's that money, you silly, stupid old fool?!"

"I heard it - bout time one of you lugheads said it."

"You call this a happy family? Why do we have to have all these kids?"

My aunt, Carol Coombs, played little Janie Bailey in the film, the piano-playing gal who banged out Hark, the Herald Angels Sing "over and OVER!!!" --'til Jimmy Stewart just about went over the edge. That sort of thing happens at our house, too.

This song was inspired by the movie, and the kind folks over at KLXR AM 1230 had this song to their Christmas playlist for the past couple of years.

It's yours to download for free on our website this month: Still Married

It Was a Wonderful Life

words and music © Erin Coombs Friedman

Last Spring I left behind a picture perfect family
Then I learned all that glitters is not gold
By September, I was sorry, sad and lonely
It’s Christmas Eve - I’m at the end of my rope

There’s an old movie playin’ on the TV
‘Bout a man who had it all but wanted more
He’s got Clarence – Me? I got Jim Beam
We’re both wishing we’d never been born

It was only black and white
But It Was a Wonderful Life
It used to be mine and I want it back
One more time for Auld Lange Syne
It Was a Wonderful Life
And I want it back

I want to run through the streets of our home town
Find you waitin’ there beside the Christmas tree
Bells are ringing, children singing - I see it all now
I’m home again and an angel gets his wings

It was only black and white
But It Was a Wonderful Life
It used to be mine and I want it back
One more time for Auld Lange Syne
It Was a Wonderful Life
And I want it back

Can we hit rewind – get our happy ending this time?

Make this Christmas dream of mine come true

Listen on YOUTUBE: here

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Wishing Season

Our family will gather, count our blessings and celebrate Hanukkah this week -- with piles of latkes and mounds of applesauce. All together we'll plow headlong into our busy Christmas shipping season. In our business (Wrap-N-Pack) we meet a lot of folks whose loved ones are far from home and this song was written with them in mind:

Wishing you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and a joyful, peaceful New Year.

Christmas Carol Wishes
words and music © Erin Friedman

Wish you could see the first snowfall
And the lights upon the tree
But we'll miss you most of all
When we gather round to sing
‘The First Noel’ and ‘Silver Bells’
‘I'll Be Home For Christmas’
You're in our prayers
And Christmas Carol Wishes

This Christmastime
We wish you a Silent Night
Angels on high
A midnight clear and bright
These Christmas Carol Wishes
Are sent with all our love
Hoping next year you'll be here
To sing with us

Joy to the World - Auld Lange Syne
Faithful friends to gather round
O Holy Night Divine
Amazing Grace how sweet the sound
May you find comfort and joy
In yuletide melodies
And when your day is done
A heavenly peace

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Shasta County Stocking Stuffer

Just in time for the holidays - our new CD - Storms and Other Blessed Burdens -- is available in Redding at Wrap-N-Pack (2205 Hilltop Drive) and on

The 10-song collection was inspired by the Shasta County landscape, and it pays tribute to the power of love that sustains and endures on even the darkest of days. That's why we look so serious on the back cover. We often stand in the backyard and stare intently at our UPC barcode:

The album includes an original Christmas tune: Christmas Carol Wishes and a duet of Kris Kristofferson's Casey's Last Ride. If you're looking for a unique Shasta County stocking-stuffer for the country music fans on your list, the CD is only $5 if you buy it at Wrap-N-Pack. And if you'd like it autographed, just shoot me an email and we'll have it ready for you.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Chuck McCabe Benefit Concert

Singer-songwriter Chuck McCabe endeared himself to local audiences with his clever song "I'd Rather Be in Redding." He endeared himself to me with his enthusiastic support of the local songwriting community.

Chuck had a brilliant sense of humor and a generous spirit and he left a great big hole in the folk music world - and in our hearts -when he passed away in July.

His friends and fellow musicians will pay tribute to Chuck and celebrate his life and his music at a benefit concert at Old City Hall on Friday December 3rd. Steve Kritzer, Jay Howlett, and Rolfe Wyer, Dennis McGregor, Willie Carmichael, Michael Gaither and Redding’s Jim Dyar will take the stage to raise funds.

Old City Hall is where I first met Chuck, and the encouragement and advice he gave that day were precious gifts. It is a perfect place and a perfect way to celebrate the man and his music.

From the press release:

"All musicians, production staff and friends are volunteering and the Shasta County Arts Council is contributing its performance hall.

Friday, December 3rd
Old City Hall, 1313 Market St, Redding

Doors open at 6:30, Concert at 7:00Tickets are $15 and are available at the door or in advance at Bernie's Guitar, (530) 223-2040, 3086 Bechelli Lane or at People of Progress, 1242 Center Street in downtown Redding (530) 243-3811

For more information or if not able to attend due to ticket price, please call Melinda at People of Progress (530) 243-3811"

Thursday, November 11, 2010

For Veterans Day

Our new CD, Storms and Other Blessed Burdens, will be finished and ready for sale any day now. The release coincides with our uber-busy time of year (we run Wrap-N-Pack in Redding, where "Shipping's a Snap") so any CD release celebration will have to wait until after the first of the year.

I'm looking forward to sending our newest creation out into the world, but in the meantime, I wanted to share this song on Veteran's Day.

I was inspired by a story I read in the newspaper several years ago. A local military wife was expecting her soldier husband to come home from Iraq and his return date was delayed time and time again. I tried to imagine coping with those circumstances, getting through the days of waiting and wishing.

Show Up in My Dreams is always dedicated to our Armed Forces personnel stationed around the world - and to the families who love and miss them. It goes out this Veterans Day with heartfelt thanks and prayers.

Show Up in My Dreams
words and music © Erin Friedman

Kids have been tucked in and kissed
Paid the bills made tomorrow’s list
We’re gettin' by
But I sure miss my man
Down the hall a voice calls to me:
“Love you , Mom, good night, sweet dreams”
I close my eyes and do the best I can

Since you can’t be here at home
And I can’t bear to sleep alone
Oh, love, please
Show Up in my Dreams

Last week I dreamed we were
Walking the beaches of Big Sur
Felt the ocean breeze, the warmth of your skin
Pressed my face against your chest
A brief moment of happiness
It feels so good to touch you now and then

May God keep you in his heart
May your dreams be sweet wherever you are
Wherever you are, there’s something I’d like you to do
Close your eyes and come to me
Kiss me touch me tenderly
Show Up in my Dreams – I’ll wait for you

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Rita Returns

Singer-songwriter Rita Hosking grew up in Eastern Shasta County and she'll return to her roots on November 19th when she and her band, Cousin Jack, perform at Bernie's. The last time they played here in Redding, Craig and I were absolutely captivated by the musicianship, the songs and the stories, and we're looking forward to hearing more.

Bernie's offers an intimate setting for fans of Hosking's emotionally-rich voice, a voice the California Bluegrass Association has called a "soulful howl from the mountains." Hosking has received accolades for her songwriting, winning the Dave Carter Memorial Songwriter Contest in 2008, and her 2009 release "Come Sunrise" was nominated for Best Country Album by the Independent Music Awards.

Hosking spent time last summer touring the UK, and her playlist abroad included a song she wrote in a traditional Celtic scale. She wrote"When Miners Sang," she says, "as an offering to folks in the UK." She recorded the song on a live EP that pays tribute to miners of days gone by, including her own great-grandfather, who was a miner from Cornwall. The entire EP was recorded in a working mine in Alleghany, Calif., and it is available at CDBABY.

On this trip, she's looking forward to performing for students at the Montgomery Creek school she attended as a child. Hosking says that whenever she drives on I5, she's drawn to the mountains of Eastern Shasta County where she spent her youth.

"The strongest pull is to the east, to go home to Hatchet Mountain...It's all I can do to keep my eyes on the road because I'm gazing east trying to make out the mountains, the weather, everything--my senses are turned up."

Tickets for her Redding performance - sponsored by the Oaksong Society - are available at Bernie's for $18: 3086 Bechelli Lane Redding, CA 96002 - (530) 223-2040

Details on the Oaksong site: Oaksong Society.

More on Rita Hosking at her website: Rita Hosking.Com

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Storms on the Horizon

What I have NOT been doing: Blogging, cleaning my house, organizing my nightmare of a closet, dealing with garage vermin.....

What I have been doing is listening. Intently. I'm wrapping up the mixing and mastering of ten songs for our CD. I can see the finish line from here, and I'm ready to sprint for it. But my ears don't sprint and neither do I, so it's a slow, tedious process. It's even more complicated, because I'm learning to engineer on my new MacBook Pro on the fly, bit by aggravating teeth-gnashing bit.

I've design the front and back covers, completely exhausting my limited understanding of graphic design. Fortunately, Cottonwood skies provide ample material for a CD entitled Storms and Other Blessed Burdens.

I'd planned to use this cover:

But when I finished designing the back cover, it just didn't "go" with the front. So I scrapped the front and started over.

The new and improved front cover is a little less intense, but more appropriate for this rather quiet collection of songs. Uses less ink, too, which makes a certain bass player happy.

Now returning to my life that is all about Eq, reverb, vocal clarity and cursing......

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Celebrating the Arts

Did you know that October is National Arts and Humanities month? I didn't. But now I do, and Craig and I will celebrate with a great group of local artists, musicians and performers at the Shasta Arts Council's ARTsMART 2010.

We'll be on stage from 4:30 - 5:30, and we're looking forward to singing some of our favorite tunes with local flavor, including Under the Sundial Bridge and The Lost Falls of Whiskeytown.

We'll be giving away kisses (chocolate) and Sundial Bridge postcards (not chocolate), so please stop by and say "hi."

Here's a tune on our Saturday playlist :

Reminds Me of You
words and music © Erin Coombs Friedman

Stuck in traffic, suckin' up fumes
Turn on the TV - there's nothin but bad news
Big wad of chewing gum stuck to my shoes
Reminds Me of You - Reminds Me of You

The pain in my head from a cheap Chardonnay
Debris in the street from the rodeo parade
Shaving my legs with a dull razor blade
Reminds Me of You -- Reminds Me of You

It?s not the sentimental things
Keep me from forgetting you
It's things that stink
Things that slink
And leave an ugly residue

The scum that I scrub from my shower floor
The spider that crawls in under the door
A shiny red apple, bad to the core
Reminds Me of You -- Reminds Me of You

A screaming brat, stomping his feet
The cream in my coffee that expired last week
Ooze on the ground where the septic tank leaked
Reminds Me of You -- Reminds Me of You

It's not the sentimental things
Keep me from forgetting you
It's the things that stink
The things that slink
And leave an ugly residue

The smell of the breeze by the stockyard in June
A festering toothache, a hot-air balloon
The road kill remains of a mangy raccoon
Reminds Me of You -- Reminds Me of You

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Midweek Treat @ Vintage

He's been compared to Jason Mraz and plays gigs all over the West Coast. On Wednesday, singer- songwriter Chris Parreira will bring his considerable talent to The Vintage Wine Bar in downtown Redding.

The show starts at 7:30 and Chris will be joined by folk musician Liz Ryder.

A busy performer in Arcata, Calif., and Ashland, Ore., Parreira is no stranger to the North State - Chris has joined us for North State Songwriter events and he impresses local audiences every time he picks up his guitar and shares his clever, poetic lyrics.

Vintage Wine Bar
1790 Market St,
Redding, CA

More on Chris: Chris Parreira

More on Liz Ryder: Liz Ryder

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

One More Time

The technical term for this new song is a "Musical Do-Over."

Several years ago, I wrote a song called "A Kiss Beneath the Sundial Bridge." I liked the story, loved the inspiration, and felt the lyrics were strong. But a song is doomed if the songwriter doesn't enjoy singing it. That is a Big Fat Fatal Red Flag.

The problem was the melody -- it was just about as interesting as last week's tuna casserole. So I re-wrote it. Twice. Fortunately, one of the benefits of having no publisher and no charting hits I am free to steal and pilfer from my own back catalog. Everything I've ever written is fair game. So I re-wrote it one more time.

Now I am -- finally -- happy with this brand new (and not quite so wordy) song: "Under the Sundial Bridge." It's available as a free download on our website - and below is a video montage of pictures of the magnificent Sundial Bridge that inspires me every time I see it.

Under the Sundial Bridge
words and music © Erin Coombs Friedman

They crossed the Sundial Bridge
Into their own fairytale romance
The twilight played behind the glass
They left behind a lonely past
Love found a time and place at last

Run, river, run, river run
Shadows spin under the sun
But time stands still
And forever begins with a kiss
Under the Sundial Bridge

They cross the Sundial Bridge
For river walks
Friday night jazz
Sunday coffee talks
Moon hangs over Lassen Peak
A diamond ring and he's down on one knee
She agrees to reach for eternity

They'll cross the Sundial Bridge
In years to come
Fireworks on the fourth
The Fall salmon run
Guide their children by the hand
Find skipping stones on the sand
Together remember just how forever began

Friday, September 10, 2010

Shana Tova - "A Good Year"

The new Jewish year has begun and we're celebrating the arrival of 5771 with some glorious fall weather here in the North State. Our family will be feasting tonight, when we finally gather all the kiddos together - not an easy feat, between dancing, classes and work.

Apples are traditional for Rosh Hashana, so I'll be whipping up this Caramel Apple Cake from the Epicurious website. Apple Cake with Caramel It's absolutely decadent and worth every calorie.

This month, we're also giving away free downloads of our song I Never Knew I Could Fly. The song celebrates survivors and it seems an appropriate way to head into a brand new year: hopeful, resilient.

Click here to go to our website - then go to the Free Download page: Still Married

Shana Tova to you and thank you for stopping by.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Curriculum of Joy

As a veteran home school mom and a leader in the local home schooling community, I'm often asked "What's the best curriculum for my kids?" My answer? "Seek Joy - everything else will follow."

The Art of Non-Conformity is a guidebook for a joy-based curriculum for adults. It's filled with examples of people who've consciously chosen to live unconventional lives. I gave it to my 18-year-old, I want my husband to read it and I'm adding it to my list of recommended reading for new homeschooling parents. Guillebeau's "Alternative Graduate School Experience" is a must-read for anyone who believes education has to cost a fortune.

Part cheerleader, part tour guide, Guillebeau gives a whole host of practical suggestions for living a non-conformist life. I'm eager to apply his ideas to my OWN life as a singer-songwriter and to share the book with others who are open to looking at the world differently and living a gratifying, joyful life outside-the-box.

Find the book on here: The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Cottonwood Fundraiser

Help -- my hair is a wreck!

Cottonwood's Dona Dollar always comes to my rescue.

Dona is the hairstylist who goes out of her way to fit you in -- (8 AM on Friday because that's what works for you? No problem.) She the gal who'll spend a full 30 minutes working on my boys' hair, because they are so darned particular about it. Dona makes you feel beautiful -- takes the time to style your hair just right.

But at the moment, Dona is dealing with some serious health issues, and some Cottonwood businesses have stepped up to help. This Saturday at the Holiday Market Center on Gas Point Road, Jake's Take and Bake and The Elegant Bean will host a barbecue and raffle to raise money for Dona. She is well-loved in Cottonwood, and the fundraiser the weekend is an opportunity to help a lady who does so much to help others.

The Fundraiser for Dona
August 21, 11-2
20633 Gas Point Rd

Tri Tip Sandwich BBQ Saturday August 21st, 11:00-2:00.

Raffle ongoing great prizes listed at both business -- tickets too.

To purchase raffle tickets stop by Jake's Take and Bake or The Elegant Bean - for more information call:


Friday, August 13, 2010

Oh, Baby!

There's a darling new arrival on Hilltop Drive -- Miss Bella's Boutique -- next to Wrap-N-Pack.

It's chock full of goodies -- beautifully crafted new items (fairy wings! soft little shoes!) and gently used adorableness. Lots of bright colors, cool geometric patterns - the whole place is a delight.

Owner Kori Isabella has obviously had a grand time decorating her space and collecting an impressive array of everything that every cool baby needs.

Mon - Friday: 10:30 - 5
Saturday 11-4
2217 Hilltop Dr (next to Wrap-N-Pack)

Find the shop on Facebook (Bella Isabella) and stop in for some oohs-and-ahhs.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Now Being Served in the Pool: Hot Fudge Sundaes

We visited with my sister Nora and her husband JB a couple of weeks ago. They may be the cutest couple ever:

Nora's best thing is spoiling her guests, so while the gang was splashing in the pool, we assembled Hot Fudge Sundaes in the kitchen and she delivered them to a happy, grateful, drippy crowd.

This is the Never-Fail Recipe I use for luscious, creamy hot fudge:

Enjoy either in the pool or safe on dry land, with:

ice cream
whipped cream

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Grilling tonight? Try Mark's Bread

Mark is married to my sister Katie -- he's a fire captain and an amazing chef who's used to whipping up hearty meals for hungry firefighters. We love going down to Mark and Katie's Simi Valley home because we get to enjoy a feast and we don't even have to fight fires to get it.

Last time we were there, Mark grilled garlic bread for us - it was simple and astoundingly delicious. We call it "Mark's Bread" -- we have a whole boatload of recipes like that -- "Mark's Potstickers," "Mark's Coq au Vin," "Mark's Potatoes." But for now, Mark's Bread:

Start with an unsliced loaf of good sourdough or Italian bread. Slice it into 1-inch thick pieces.

Lay the pieces in a dish and drench it in good olive oil. I mean REALLY soak it, dip it, saturate it -- it's the olive oil that makes it amazing. You'll use about 1 - 2 cups, depending on the size of the loaf of bread.

Grill the bread over medium heat until lightly toasted. Sprinkle both sides with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Slice a fresh garlic clove (or 2 or 3) and rub the garlic on the surface of each slice. Sink you teeth in and enjoy.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Help for Chuck McCabe's Family

Chuck has a whole lot of devoted fans and friends here in the North State. Here's a chance to help his wife, Cindy.

According to Chuck's website:

"Both Chuck and his wife Cindy encountered challenging circumstances in the last two years of his life. Contributions toward expenses will be graciously accepted and deeply appreciated.

To make a donation, please write a check out to Cindy Costa and mail it to:

Cindy Costa

15466 Los Gatos Blvd.
Los Gatos, CA 95032

Thank you for your generosity."

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Nick Rocks the Loft

photo by Bryce Goldstein

This Bohemian Art Loft will ring with the sounds of original folk rock music this weekend, when Nick Ciampi and the Rocs rock the house.

Nick is a veteran musician - composer, rocker, folk troubadour and teacher. This new venue is a beautifully appointed performance space, dedicated to both visual and performing arts.

Read up on Nick and his 50 years in the music business on his website: Nick Ciampi Productions

And come on out on Saturday night, July 31st, to enjoy the show - it starts at 9.

Bohemian Art Loft
3304-B Bechelli Lane

Monday, July 26, 2010

Chuck McCabe

Singer songwriter Chuck McCabe lost a battle with cancer last Friday, and the North State music community lost a dear friend.

I met Chuck when he offered a weekend songwriting workshop through the Shasta County Arts Council several years ago. He listened to us -- all rank amateurs - and he shared stories and advice and he encouraged each and every student. Lunch time came around, and he worked right through, smiling, laughing and answering questions and sharing the insights that only come from years of experience on the front lines of the music industry.

Chuck listened to a rough version of a song I wrote, "Heart Shaped Stones," and made kind comments. "Do you have more?" he asked. When I nodded, he said, "Well, what are you waiting for? Get 'em recorded." His encouragement was a precious gift.

Chuck was a most gracious and generous performer. He was never impressed with his own talent, though everyone else was, and he always took the time to chat, ask about the local songwriting scene and to listen. When Chuck was on stage, I never saw ego -- only a talented entertainer who loved picking and singing and sharing the laughter. His performances were all about the song - funny, poignant and brilliantly crafted, and delivered with sincerity.

The last time I saw him at The Post Office, Chuck beamed like a proud Papa when local musician Richard Horner played his song "I'd Rather be in Redding."

Chuck left us a whole heap of great songs - available on CDBaby - and these last few days, I've found comfort listening to "My Prayer for You."

You can listen to it here: Chuck McCabe on Podsafe

Listen to clips and purchase Chuck's music at: CDBaby

There is a guestbook at Chuck's website for remembrances: Chuck McCabe

I'd Rather be in Redding was his gift to the North State - enjoy:

Friday, July 23, 2010

Down-Home Ranch

We eat bushels of fresh veggies this time of year -- love the organic produce at the Farmers Markets and our Cottonwood Holiday Market.

This Ranch Dip/Dressing is much better - and more wholesome -- than the bottled versions. We go through a lot of it. The secret is the Cow Camp Garlic Season-All:

- I've found it at Holiday and at Winco -- I imagine it's available at other food outlets, as well.

Ranch Dip/Dressing

Combine in a small bowl:

2 tablespoons Cow Camp Garlic Season-All
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dried dill (or a tablespoon of fresh)

1/4 cup sour cream or mayonnaise
2 cups plain yogurt

Whisk together and refrigerate.

Here's a link to a printable version: Ranch Dip/Dressing

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Vote for Local Songwriters!

Cottonwood singer-songwriter Diana Wallis and her husband Wally are finalists in the Next Wedding Song Contest. Diana and Wally are terrific writers, engaging performers and good-hearted souls.

You can help them out -- together they are The Pine Dogz -- by casting a vote (or two or three) on the contest website. Their song is "Want to be Where You Are" -- to vote, click here

More on The Pine Dogz check out their web site: The Pine Dogz

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Remember Me

Without any gigs on our schedule, Craig and I are having fun learning a few cover songs.

I love this one - Remember Me - a 70-year-old song written by Scotty Wiseman, a songwriter and singer who also penned "Have I Told You Lately that I Loved You?"

He and his wife Lulu Belle (who had a hit with "Does Your Chewing Gum Lose its Flavor on the Bedpost Overnight?") were a popular husband and wife duo, performing regularly on the country music circuit. Lulu Belle and Scotty - "The Hayloft Sweethearts" - were fixtures on the radio from the 1930s to the 1950s and even made some feature films.

Read more of their story here:

Listen to them singing "Remember Me"

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Still Married Heats Up

A couple years ago, Craig and I played an evening parking lot gig in Anderson in July. Because my husband has a bit of a sadistic streak, he brought a thermometer onstage, and at the time we finished our 2-hour set, the temperature was 109 degrees.
The restaurant is long gone, (I don't think THAT was our fault), but the memory of that scorching day is indelibly burned in our minds. Craig positively wilts in the heat, and I made a solemn promise to NEVER, EVER agree to a free, outdoor gig in the summertime.

I kept my promise, because I'm a Good Wife. Then this very interesting opportunity came up: Play at Redding's Fourth of July Freedom Fest. For hundreds of people. Good Wife morphed into Whiny Wife: "C'mon. Pleeeeeze? It'll be fun! You believe in Freedom, don't you?"

So we'll be there. And just to make it interesting, we're running a contest. Be the first commenter to correctly guess what the temperature will be at the end of our set (7:55 PM), and win a lovely Chisum Trail Neck Cooler. We love these coolers for beating the summer heat -- soak them in water and get instant relief.

Enter your guess in the comment section below. One guess per person, please. If no one nails it exactly, the prize will go to the person who gets closest to the temperature without going over.

Friday, June 25, 2010


My sister Nora recently shared a recipe for Pork Char Sui - brined and barbecued pork tenderloin sandwiches. It was wonderful - but I'm seriously into simplifying my recipes. And I'm currently in love with my crockpot - It cooks while I'm at work! It's like having a a maid without the guilt of that comes with ordering people around.

I tweaked the recipe -- tossed a pork shoulder into the crockpot with some sauce and came up with this marvelously scrumptious and pathetically easy dish.

Pork Char Sui is a barbecued pork. Since this meat doesn't get anywhere near a barbecue, I'm calling it Pork Crock Sui.

1 boneless pork shoulder (about 1 1/2 lbs)

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tbs vanilla extract
1 cup ketchup
1 cup hoisin sauce
4 tbs toasted sesame oil
4 tbs minced garlic
4 tbs soy sauce

12 slices of canned pineapple
24 King's Hawaiian sweet rolls - the whole wheat dinner rolls from Winco work just fine, too
1 cup cilantro sprigs

2. Put pork in the crock pot.
3. Mix sauce ingredients.

4. Pour 1/2 the sauce over the pork - reserve the other half.
5. Cook pork on low for 5-6 hours.
6. Take out the pork and slice into 1/4 inch slices or shred, if that works. Just get it into manageable pieces. Place it back in the crockpot to stay warm.
7. Fry or grill pineapple slices til light brown. (Or you could skip the grilling part and just put the pineapple on the sandwich naked and cold - it's OK, really.)
8. Cut rolls in half. Spread about a couple tablespoons of reserved sauce on bun, put some pork on top, and add a piece of pineapple and a cilantro sprig.

Thank your lucky stars for tastebuds and pigs .... and enjoy.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Nick Ciampi at the Post Office

Wednesday, June 23 and Saturday, June 26th.

Redding singer-songwriter Nick Ciampi will help Redding usher in Summertime with a performance at The Post Office in The Downtown Mall. Wednesday's show start around 7, Saturday begins 8:30.

Enjoy Nick's original folk-rock music and some classic covers at this friendly venue. Nick's a gifted songwriter, an amazing guitar player and he's generous with his talent - both on stage and off.
Enjoy Magazine profiled Nick a couple years ago - you can read it here.

Photo credit: Wyatt Olson
Nick's myspace

Friday, June 11, 2010

Celebrating Independence: Music Giveaway

It's Friday and that's reason enough to celebrate. I'm giving away two Still Married CDs - all you have to do is leave a comment.

Well - there is a catch, but the catch is a good one - I'd like you to sample some independent music over at Whole Wheat Radio. Whole Radio is a listener-driven Internet radio station. -- and the folks who run it are heroes to independent musicians.

From their website:

Whole Wheat Radio is a grassroots online radio station originating on Birch Creek Blvd. near Talkeetna, Alaska. We are independent and entirely volunteer operated and funded. We've been at the leading edge of demonstrating people-powered new media for over 7 years. We're for real - and we'd love to have you stick around and become part of the effort.

So pop over to Whole Wheat Radio and listen to a song or two -- leave a comment here or on my Facebook page and tell me what you heard. If you're in the mood, go ahead and tell me: Was it new to you? Did you like it? Your comment is your entry in our drawing for one of two CDs. That's it -- you'll be helping to support the heroes of independent music world and you may even find a new website to bookmark.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Picture Perfect

When I met Craig back in 1977, this was the picture hanging in his bedroom.

Craig had ordered the print (Gray and Gold - by John Rogers Cox) when he was a teenager - because he loved the look of it.

We both grew up in the San Fernando Valley - land of tract homes, swimming pools and cinder block walls -- light years away from this landscape we call home here in Cottonwood. Sometimes we wonder how we ended up here. Maybe it was dumb luck or maybe that picture Craig chose thirty-five years ago set the whole thing in motion.

When we look out from our back patio on days like this, it sure seems like destiny:

Monday, May 31, 2010

Playing to the Crowd

My Granddad - a comedy writer in the Golden Age of Radio - always said: "Know your audience."

Richard Horner played to the crowd when he chose Chuck McCabe's song, "I'd Rather be in Redding" for the Redding Senior Idol Contest. He took second place in the contest, on stage at the Cascade Theatre in front of a sell-out crowd.

We heard him sing this at the Post Office -- backed up by songwriter Chuck McCabe - and Horner did a terrific job.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

On Thursday "I'd Rather be in Redding," Again

They're back!

In town from the Bay Area: Blah Blah Woof Woof. If you like smart, well-crafted songs, you'll show up at the Post Office in Redding's Downtown Mall on Thursday evening (8ish) and enjoy some first-rate songwriting and excellent musicianship from Jay Howlett, Chuck McCabe and Rolfe Wyer.

Chuck was nominated for the Just Plain Folks New Folk Album of the Year for his last release "Creature's of Habit in a World of Change," and his song "Minimum Wager" won the Woody Guthrie Songwriting Competition. Jay Howlett was a finalist in the Kerrville New Folk Competition and wrote the West Coast Songwriters Song of the Year. The stories are compelling and delivered sincerely - with emotion that makes listening a true pleasure. And the three of them seem to have a grand time playing together.

C'mon out and hear Chuck's local anthem: "I'd Rather be in Redding." And maybe this pretty one from Jay:

Monday, May 3, 2010

Poetic Weather

In June of 2008, far Northern California was hit by a beautiful, awful summer storm - there was no rain, but incredible flashes of Dry Lightning touched down and ignited hundreds of wild fires. Many burned throughout the long smokey summer. That dismal season left the land scarred and black and gave me the metaphor that inspired this song.

Bonus: I also learned -- once and for all -- how to spell "lightning."

6:59 AM -- And now I've JUST discovered that Bruce Springsteen has a song called "Dry Lightning" -- Ah, well....his is better. Surprise.

Youtube is suddenly being very flakey with embedded video. Here's a YouTube link to the song: Dry Lightning

Dry Lightning

Words and music © Erin Coombs Friedman

He looks like a cool drink of something fine
To a heart that suffered years of drought
But he’s a dangerous storm in the summertime
A dark cloud that hides
Dry Lightning inside
He strikes and you can’t put that fire out

Dry Lightning
A storm without the rain
Dry Lightning
A flash of blue - then the flame
Dry Lightning strafes the ground
Already parched and brown
Rolls away when the thunder sounds

I lay down in the path of his destruction
Mesmerized by the fiery display
Fell for that devil’s seduction
He’s all slash and burn
Take it from a gal who learned
Save yourself or there’ll be hell to pay

Dry Lightning
A storm without the rain
Dry Lightning
A flash of blue - then the flame
Dry Lightning strafes the ground
Already parched and brown
Rolls away when the thunder sounds

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

CD Cover

How's our new CD coming along? We still have several tracks to record and master, but I'm calling this progress. Thank you, Picasa 3.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Because Cowboys are Cool

I wrote this song after watching real working cowboys dealing with rodeo stock in the pasture just behind our house. Living in Cottonwood definitely has its inspirational perks.

Celebrating the arrival of Rodeo Season by giving away free downloads of "The Last Cowboy in Shasta County." It's at our website - please help yourself:

Still Married Band website

Friday, April 16, 2010

Songwriting Scene Profile

Delighted to be featured today on Sharon Goldman's Songwriting Scene Blog. Link is here: Songwriting Scene

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Kool Banner Pic

Kool Banner Pic
Originally uploaded by erin_friedman2007
Hilltop Drive is Revving up for Friday's Kool April Nights Cruise. Stop by Wrap-N-Pack Friday evening for some Kool Kristmas Shortbread Cookies.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

I'd Rather Be in Redding: On Thursday

Chuck McCabe's clever song "I'd Rather be in Redding" has played on KPIG, circulated through email boxes and entertained locals. Chuck will be in town this week, performing at The Post Office in the Downtown Mall this Thursday evening, starting at around 7 ish.

Here's a YOUTUBE video of "I'd Rather be in Redding" -- c'mon down to the Post Office this week and hear it live. 25,000 youtube listeners can't be wrong.

Also playing with him will be Jay Howlett and on bass, Rolfe Wyer. In the Small World Department: Twenty-some years ago, back when I lived in San Mateo, Rolfe was my first songwriting instructor.

Enjoy the tune:

More on Chuck McCabe: HERE.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Song for Easter

It wasn't written as an Easter song - but it surely fits in with the message of resurrection:

You tube link: HERE

Friday, April 2, 2010

Name That Booth Contest

My dream is to someday have a real recording studio - carefully constructed, acoustically balanced and decorated for warmth and inspiration. Until then, we've made-do with a large open music room -- a room with high ceilings, recessed lofts, glass doors and windows and a gas stove with a stovepipe that rattles when we play certain notes - an acoustic disaster.

There's no dream recording studio in my immediate future, but Craig DID build me a sound booth - in an effort to add some warmth and depth to our vocal recordings. As is Craig's custom, he used material we had on hand - packaging foam, bubble wrap and PVC.

We set it up yesterday and singing inside it is a bit like having a gig in the Emerald City. Or an aquarium.....

The Bubble Wrap ceiling looks a little bit like clouds, if you squint:

I'll be spending a lot of time inside this green cave, so it needs a name.

Here's the contest: Leave me a comment with your suggested name for my new recording booth. I'll bake a batch of Coconut Shortbread Cookies (trust me - these are amazing) for the person who comes up with the VERY BEST name. Decision of the judge (that's me) is final.

Give it your best shot, pretty please. I'll preheat the oven.....

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Kitchen Composition

Cooking is a lot like songwriting - Start with a few ingredients, a little inspirationPosted by Picasaand attempt to put them together in a way that's unique and satisfying.

Yesterday I came home itching to cook something wonderful for dinner -- and I found virtually nothing exciting in my pantry or refrigerator. But sometimes you must plow ahead using whatever turns up. What turned up was: a couple onions, a Granny Smith apple and a few slices of bacon. Bingo. I decided to create an Onion Apple Tart. It was inspired.

Onion Apple Tart

Your favorite pizza dough recipe (If you don't have one already, this one from The Pioneer Woman is good: Pizza dough)

3 slices on bacon, chopped
2 onions, sliced
a little olive oil
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and chopped in 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup of heavy cream
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (or use your favorite cheese)
kosher salt
fresh cracked black pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Cook the bacon til it's brown and then use a paper towel to sop up most of the grease in the pan. Pour a little olive oil in with the bacon and saute the onions in the same pan. When the onions are soft, put the apples in the pan and saute til the apples soften.

Pour the cream into the pan and cook on low until most of the liquid evaporates. Let the filling cool while you roll out the pizza dough.

Roll the dough out - I use an insulated cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. I rub a bit of olive oil on the paper before I spread the dough out. Pile the topping on the dough. Sprinkle with kosher salt, black pepper, and Parmesan cheese.

Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes - or until the crust is nicely brown and cheese is melted exactly to your liking.

When it comes out, it will look something like this:

Posted by Picasa

We enjoyed it with a 2005 Ravenswood Syrah from the Grocery Outlet. Wonderful meal - and loads easier than writing a hit song.

Friday, March 19, 2010

No, He's Not an Old Man....

--- but he plays one in this song. I like telling stories with the songs I write, and in this one, an old man looks back on a long and satisfying life.

I think Craig does a great job in his role as The Elderly Gentleman, despite the fact that he's a rather hunky-looking, middle-aged guy with more than a few good years left in him.

"I'll Fly Away" is a tip o' the hat to the gospel song we enjoy singing here at home. Lyrics are below.

You tube link: here.

I'll Fly Away
words and music © Erin Coombs Friedman

I been called a stubborn cuss
Set like cement in my ways
Start too many stories with
“Back in my day”
But my glory days are memories
And the best of me ain’t what it used to be
I won’t dig in my heels when it’s time to leave


I’ve been loved more than I deserve
Saved by a good woman and the Word
Won some high-priced victories
Made mistakes, made my peace
When the choir sings for me
I’ll Fly Away
I’ll Fly Away
I’ll Fly Away

Was headed down a wicked road
When she laid her hand in mine
Raised me up with a touch
Made me proud to walk the line
Good times and bad, we were blessed
From lullabies to empty nest
Ready for what the good Lord’s planning next

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Bit of Irish for St. Patrick's Day

According to family legend, my great-great grandfather George Convy brought a piece of sod from the homeland when he emigrated from Ireland in 1866. Now and again he would take it out and have a good cry.

The Irish, who fled their country by the thousands, did not have a word for "emigrate" -- instead, they used the word for "exile," which struck me as sad and poignant. In this song.The Turf o' Tullamore - I pay tribute to my Irish ancestors, who came from Tullamore, Ireland, to make a new life in St Louis, MO, -- and occasionally grieved for their homeland.

The Turf o' Tullamore
words and music © Erin Coombs Friedman

Into the West – land of the free
In freedom will I e’er a stranger be
So up the stairs I climb
Open up the trunk and find
The piece of home I carried ‘cross the sea


Weeping o’er The Turf o’ Tullamore
Exiles both – the Irish sod and I
The Turf o’ Tullamore
Will know my bones forevermore
Sweeten my grave when I
Lay down to die

For my sons, I made a pledge
They’ll not beg the Crown for daily bread
There’s days I understand
The promise in this promised land
And days I fill my glass with my regrets


When I take my final rest
Lay the Turf o’ Tullamore upon my breast
And it’s sweet - the dream I’ll dream
Home to Erin’s fields of green
By the Shannon’s holy waters, I’ll be blessed


Youtube Link Here

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Music You Can Sink Your Teeth Into....

That's Whole Wheat Radio.

It's a hardy, flavorful treat after a bland diet of mainstream radio's fluffy Wonder Bread.

From the WWR website:

"Whole Wheat Radio is a homegrown grassroots online radio station originating from Talkeetna, Alaska."

"We feature the music of 2,794 truly talented independent artists who appreciate the opportunity to have their 43,500 songs be heard on a funky, non-traditional webcast. We've had over 19,092,527 listens to the more than 885,083 tunes we've played."

Every time I listen, I hear delightful, interesting new stuff. You can request music, submit CDs for play and interact with other listeners - cool folks who appreciate and enjoy indie music. They've even played a few "Still Married" tunes.

I added a Whole Wheat Radio button to my blog and a WWR player to my Facebook page. Every time I listen, I'm entertained and amazed by these talented artists. I marvel at this era we're living in - where artists can share music with the whole world, by way of a tiny town in Alaska, with just a few clicks.

Log in and listen for a bit - I promise you'll hear something flavorful and delicious.

Whole Wheat Radio

Still Married Page on Whole Wheat Radio

Monday, March 8, 2010

And the Oscar for best perfomance by a Christmas Decoration goes to....

......Drosselmeyer, the plastic owl.

During December, our owl perches at the top of our Christmas tree:

The rest of the year he bides his time in the front hall. But last week he was conscripted to duty just outside the front door. His mission: Keep those blasted, messy chickens from soiling our front porch.

Drosselmeyer has taken to his new role as "Menacing Bird of Prey" with relish, and the chickens have abandoned the porch for more hospitable stomping grounds. The front porch is litter-free.

Or maybe it's a coincidence and the hens are having a good chicken-chuckle behind my back. Whatever. I am considering a few more owls. Or maybe fewer chickens.

Here's our one-and-only chicken song, dedicated to those feisty critters:

You tube link: Here.

Possum in the Hen House
words and music © Erin Coombs Friedman