Tour Recap: Quincy California and Modesto 

It's a few days late, but here's our recap of this weekend's trip! 

Friday, May 20 

We plan to leave for my dad’s house in the morning, but first we have to pack the car. I drive a Prius C, which is the tiniest Prius you can have, so it’s a bit of a challenge to fit three guitars, a PA, cables, mic stands, speaker stands, guitar stand, and all the other STUFF you have to bring along to make a show happen.* We’ve done this enough that we’re pretty good at it, but this is the first time we’ve had to bring overnight bags, so there’s another layer of difficulty. But Ron and I love a good puzzle and between his excellent spatial reasoning and my mad Tetris skills, we manage to pack and get on the road only a little later than we planned to. 

I’ve made the drive up Highway 99 approximately 1000 times. We play “Streets of Bakersfield” as we pass Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace, we stop at Bravo Farms Cheese Factory to stretch our legs, we talk about songwriting as farmland rolls past us. The benefit of driving during the day is that the silage smell is usually better than at night. 

We get to my dad’s house just in time for dinner. My brothers have brought their kids, so we have a full house, even though the kids only account for half my nieces and nephews. Four small children always somehow manage to seem like twenty. We have kebabs and rice for dinner and ice cream and watermelon for dessert. 

Ron and I want to run a few things before our show tomorrow, so after my brothers take their respective kids home, my dad gets a little bit of a private concert. (Although listening to rehearsal isn’t always super entertaining, what with all the stopping and starting and nitpicking about tempos and running lead breaks three or four times. But he seems to enjoy it). We unload the important things from the car (because the first rule of being a musician is “Don’t leave your gear in the car” and head to bed early-ish, because we know tomorrow is going to be a long day. 

Saturday, May 21 

We wake up and have pancakes with my dad. I introduce him to the show “The Good Place” which is one of my favorite things I’ve watched in the past few years (and something I highly recommend if you haven’t watched it). We load the car and start the drive into Quincy. 

It’s about a four hour drive. Once we start heading into the hills on Highway 70 the drive gets really pretty. We pass through a bunch of small towns, a lot of them founded around the time of the gold rush. Once we get through Butte Valley, I realize we probably should have stopped for lunch there, because it’s almost 2pm, we’re about 2 hours from Quincy, and the map is telling me there isn’t much else on the way. But we don’t want to turn around, so we figure that worst case scenario we’ll eat before the show somewhere in Quincy. 

But after about an hour we pass a tiny cafe called The Rock House on the side of the road. We decide to stop. The sign says “Open 8 to 3 or sometimes later” so we pop our heads in and ask. The owner tells us that yes, today is one of the days they’re open later. They’re having live music tonight. We tell her we’re playing too, up in Quincy. She tells me to let her know when we’re in the area next and exchange information. She tells us a little bit about the cafe and how she and her husband lost their house in the Camp Fire a few years ago. Part of the cafe also burned, but they were lucky and didn’t lose the whole thing. 

We order a pizza because I don’t really want a sandwich and it’s surprisingly good. After the cafe, the road starts following the Feather River. It’s a beautiful drive, but it’s narrow and in a lot of parts there’s a pretty steep drop into the river on the side of the road and not much shoulder. We listen to Paul Kelly and wind our way along the river. We can see evidence of past wildfires up on the hills, but amazingly a lot of the partially charred trees are still alive. 

Quincy is a cute little town with a bigger art scene than you would expect in somewhere so out of the way. We get to The Drunk Brush Wine Bar at a little after 5. Kaline, the bartender, is super helpful as we start to set up. We’re playing outside and the best part about that, aside from the beautiful weather, is that we can pull the car right up to the patio and unload with minimal carrying. (Carrying gear is the worst part of this job). 

The audience is apparently a smaller crowd than usual; there’s a class reunion happening and a kids production of Peter Pan Junior drawing people away. But, as someone smart once told me, you play for the audience you have. And the people there are engaged and seem to like us. It wasn’t our strongest night musically (but not in a “we were bad” way, just in a “I know we’ve played better than this before” way) and people even get up and dance to some of our songs, which is surprising. We even sell a few CDs. 

The worst part of the night is that I forgot to bring bug spray and I get about fifteen new mosquito bites. I can see them landing on me and biting me, but I’m playing guitar so I can’t swat them off. (Mosquitos love me. If we’re ever hanging out after dark and there are mosquitos around, you’re welcome in advance, because they’re going to bite me and leave you alone). 

We talk to a couple of folks who are also in a band and I try to explain what a Nashville guitar is to one of them. I don’t think I do a very good job of it, but she plays it a little bit while we’re on the break (with my permission) and she thinks it sounds cool. 

After we break down, Riccardo, the owner (who is wearing a fantastic Hawaiian shirt), brings us each a glass of wine and he tells us we should definitely come back. We chat and relax and suddenly it’s midnight. We have a four-hour drive back home and definitely did not mean to stay this late. We decide to take the slightly longer road home because it’s less windy and not on the side of a cliff. Country roads are dark and twenty extra minutes is worth the safer drive. We put on some Dan Tyminski and begin the drive back. We’re both starving, so we eat leftover pizza. The car is really starting to look like a touring car, with a pizza box on the dashboard and empty water bottles. I fall asleep in the car by the time we hit Truckee. When we get home it’s about 4:30 in the morning and we collapse into bed.

Playing at The Drunk Brush

Sunday, May 22 

I drag myself out of bed at about 9:30. My Dad has gone to mass, but he’s left us donuts from We Donuts, which is a local shop we’ve been going to ever since I can remember. It’s owned by a Korean couple and it never closes and it has the best donuts. It’s my weekend nostalgia. Ron gets up and we’re running late and we’re tired. We get coffee to wake us up and drive over to the house we’re playing at for Modesto Porchfest. 

Our hosts are Shy and her husband Nathan and their adorable daughter Gemma. They’re super welcoming and helpful. Shy has an adorable yard, with tons of shade, which is great because it’s warm out. We set up and we’re getting some weird PA buzzing noise that we can’t get rid of. And of course we’re running a little late and we’re a little pressed for time. Tech problems never happen when you’re early. We decide to live with it, but then Ron does one last thing to the PA and suddenly the problem is fixed. 

We get a pretty good crowd on the lawn, although to be fair a good number of them are my family (one of my brothers and sisters-in-law, both of my sisters, my youngest sister’s boyfriend, my dad, and various nieces and nephews). A friend from high school also comes out, and we haven’t seen each other in years, so that was really cool. But we also get strangers stopping and listening. We play for an hour and half without taking a break, because time just kind of goes, as it does when you’re having fun. 

We pack up the car and go back to my dad’s house where we have cake for my sister’s birthday. The littlest kids become chocolate monsters and run around in the backyard until naptime. We clean out the car and then we head back home from Modesto. It’s been a long weekend, but a really, really good one. 

Playing at Porchfest

*I am not complaining about my car’s size. We drove a lot this weekend–from our house to Modesto (347 miles), Modesto to Quincy (222 miles), Quincy to Modesto (245 miles–we took the longer way home because it was less winding and less on the side of hill close to a river that would be a watery grave if we misjudged a turn in the dark), and then Modesto to home (347 miles). For those of you playing at home, that’s 1161 miles. Or a third of the way across the United States. I am glad for the excellent gas mileage I get.

Shoutout LA Feature 

Image Description: A nonbinary person with curly brown hair (with some white streaks) playing guitar.I sat down with Shoutout LA to talk about the band and how we are able to persist through all of the times that the world and the music industry are discouraging. If you've ever tried to create, it can be really discouraging when you don't get positive responses and life is full of people who will tell you no or that you're not good enough. And those are voices that can be hard to shake. So I talk about what helps keep me going. This is especially relevant now since the pandemic really hurt live music. A lot of venues have closed or are slow to bring back live music, so it's been an even bigger struggle than before to get heard.

I also talk about some of the best things to do in Southern California, in my opinion anyway, so if you ever come to visit you have some ideas of where to start.

You can check out the article here. I'd love to hear your thoughts. Comment or email us on our contact page.

Happy Holidays! 

We played our last gig of 2021 this weekend. It was up in Silverado Canyon at their annual Christmas in the Canyons event. Before COVID, Ron and I would sometimes spend a Sunday afternoon driving in the canyons of the Santa Ana Mountains. We usually stopped to visit the local nature preserve in Modjeska Canyon (right next to Silverado Canyon) to say hi to the birds and take pictures. Some of our earliest gigs were benefits for that nature preserve, back before we were even technically “The Odd Birds.” Playing in a secluded canyon in the Santa Ana Mountains this weekend felt a little bit like coming full circle, but in a way that let us see how much we’ve grown. 

We’ve come really far from the days when we couldn’t think of a name and were too intimidated to play any original songs. We played more gigs in 2021 than ever before. We released our second album and people actually played our songs on the radio. They actually asked us to come talk about our songs on the radio. We did our first real tour and it was on a whole other continent! 

And best of all we got to meet and connect with so many new people. We were lucky enough to eat cake and trade stickers and share stories and drink the most disgusting shot we’ve ever tasted with you. (Okay, maybe that last one was not so lucky but it’s an experience I won’t forget). 

It’s a cliché and an understatement to say that 2020 was a difficult year. And for a lot of people, us included, 2021 was equally challenging. But we also had a lot of great things happen for us this year and every single one of them was because of you. We want to thank you all so much for your kindness and support and we hope to get to see more of you and share more with you next year. 

Happy Holidays and we hope your 2022 is better than any year you’ve ever had before.

Back in the US 

Hi all,

We are back!  We got back to the US on October 1st.  We had an amazing time in Germany.  If you want to check out our touring stories, you can look at our Facebook page, where I did daily updates.  We even came home with a lovely new odd bird from one of our listeners.

Hands holding a small beige colored carved wooden bird.
We also played our first show back in the US on Sunday.  Here's a recap for you in case you missed it:

October 10, 2021--Show recap 

We're playing today at Gallagher's, which is a new-to-us venue (it's definitely not a new venue; I'm pretty sure it's a Huntington Beach staple). I've never even been there, not even to see a band. When we walk in, I immediately feel trepidation. We are way not cool enough and way too folky for this bar. This bar is dive-y. This is not a snobbery thing. I like going to dive bars to see bands or have a drink, I'm just reticent about actually playing dive bars. We have played dive bars before and we have never gone over that well. There was one in particular--the only bar I've ever been into that was so gross I didn't want to touch anything--where I was pretty sure people were going to start doing that thing where they yell at you to get off the stage. The energy coming from the crowd was that hostile. We had no business playing there (I'm still not sure what the person setting up that show was thinking, to be honest). Not every artist is a fit for every venue. 

But we are here and it's supposed to be an acoustic singer/songwriter thing, so I'm being optimistic. It's a pretty standard format--bands each get a half-hour set, with ten minutes to change over. The first band is scheduled at three and then we are supposed to go on at 3:40. We get there at about a quarter to three and the first band, The Brother Jonathan, is doing their sound check. It's four guys-a lead singer/guitar player, a bassist with a gorgeous stand-up electric bass, an electric guitarist, and a percussionist. They end up starting a little late; there's a lot of them and so I think it took the sound guy a bit to dial them in. And they sound fantastic. Really tight, gorgeous harmonies, and really cool songs. They play a Hoyt Axton song that I haven't heard in ages, and that's right up our alley. This makes me relax a little bit, because even though we don't sound the same as bands, we make sense being on the same bill. And people are into them, so at least on Sunday afternoons, this is a venue where we fit. We talk a bit after their set and they are also very nice people, which is awesome. 

We play next and it feels pretty good. I think touring helped us get a real jump in the quality of our performance. There's things you can only fix in front of an audience--performance things, not musical things. And when you're playing with only a day or two between shows, you're able to focus on and fix those things a lot easier than if you're next show is in two weeks. Anyway, I get thrown a few times during our set by people just kind of being there, which always mucks up my playing, but I'm getting better at not getting distracted and at recovering when things do go a little bit to hell. (Audiences can really distract me--it's a failing of mine. I play a lot better when there's no one to see me--which is a claim that I can make but frustratingly never prove.) I do feel a little bit all over the place tempo and meter-wise and I'm pretty sure drummer sitting at the bar is judging me a little bit (it's okay Mr. Drummer--I'm judging me too!). Overall it's a good set for us. People seem to enjoy it and Ron's leads sound great and we feel really together vocally. 

Bobbo plays the next set. Neither of us was aware that the other was playing this gig until a couple days after we booked it. We've just done a bunch of shows together and now our first show in the US is together. We are shockingly not tired of each other's faces or music. Bobbo of course kills it. He lets me come up and sing harmony on a few songs with him, which is always fun. At one point when I'm up there (I think it was for "Jealous Kind" but I don't actually remember what song), a woman comes up to tip him. She is dancing in a way that is definitely meant to be seductive and she licks the money before tossing it into Bobbo's pile of tips. (This reminds of a story that my dad used to tell me about when he worked in a bank and guy came in to make a deposit and pulled the money out of his underwear. The moral here, as much as there is one, is that cash is filthy, you never know what someone has done to it before it gets into your hands, and hand sanitizer is your friend.) Funnily enough, for all that I say audiences distract me, this dancing woman does not faze me. I can be singing a song I don't even really 100% know and have never really practiced and pretty much nothing will throw me. Put a guitar in my hands and the whole damn song would have been toast, even if I knew it cold. 

We are able to stay for a few songs from the next band, Angelkiss, before we have to go. Their singer has a killer voice and I dig the songs and I want to be able to stick around and hear the rest of their set (and everyone else playing after them), but it's a work night and I worked six days last week and I've started having a bit of a nausea spell, so I need some air. Some days my body just doesn't want to play nice and it really puts a damper on my partying lifestyle (like I said above, I am a decidedly uncool rock star.)

Tremolo Heart is Now Available for Preorder 

We are thrilled to announce our newest album, Tremolo Heart, will be released September 17, 2021.  You can pre-order a digital copy in our store right now, and it will automatically download for you on September 17.  You can also hear some snippets of the tracks.

We are so excited and proud of this album and we can’t wait for you to hear it!

And We're Back! 

Image Description: A person with curly brown hair in a dress with an apple print and a red sweater and a man with a black Western shirt and jeans standing on a stage.  Both are playing guitars.

We've been slowly making our way back into performing.  We went to a few open mics in the past month or so, and then we played a showcase at Campus JAX and a show at the Beach Hut that Chris Cruz put together with a bunch of bands and musicians.  We did a few livestreams and pre-recorded radio shows during the pandemic.  Those are challenging in their own way, because you're essentially playing into the void. People are watching and you can interact in the comments, but it's really not the same as having an audience right there, where you kind of feed off each other's energy.  But playing live with an audience after so much time not doing it is odd too.  You feel rusty and out of practice, like an athlete coming back from an injury after missing a season.  Everything feels stiff and tentative.

That's not to say that those gigs went badly.  I actually felt good about them when they were over and it was so so so amazing to see other musicians playing.  I've been missing live music, but I hadn't realized just how much until I was back hearing it.

On Saturday we played at the Orange County Fair in the afternoon and then, because our manager does not pay attention (it's me...I'm the manager), we played with The Fallen Stars at the Beach Hut in the evening.  We've never played at the Fair before and we had such a good time.  We got there early to avoid stress and unloaded our gear and got it all moved over to the stage, with the help of the Fair staff.  We had been to see Bobbo and The Fallen Stars play last weekend on the same stage, and I was happy to see that the same stage manager, JD, and sound technician, Noelle, were working this weekend.  They had done an awesome job last weekend and did not disappoint this weekend.  They made everything really easy and Noelle made us sound great.

The band that played before us was called Ganda.  They're a five-piece reggae band and they were a ton of fun to listen to.  It was almost enough to distract me from nerves.  I don't think I'll ever not be nervous going on stage.  When they were done, we got our stuff onstage and did a sound check and then we were off.  It took a minute for me to settle in, but once I did, things felt comfortable.  People stopped to sit and listen and really seemed to be enjoying what we did.  Lots of smiling faces in the audience.  There's a song I play in drop D tuning and I did the thing that always seems to happen-I forgot to retune the low E string back up to an E, even though I had put a reminder to myself in huge letters on the set list.  I realized the mistake about halfway through the song and was able to sort of fix it by a combination of muting the low E string and playing the chords differently.  It was less than ideal, but far from a disaster and aside from that everything went really well.

After the show, we had a few people buy CDs and actually wanted them signed.  One guy told me it was his 50th wedding anniversary--he and his wife had gotten married in 1971 right after he came home from Vietnam, so we signed a "Happy Anniversary" on his CD.  It's always cool to hear things like that and to know that you were part of making someone happy on a day that's special to them.  I went and bought us ridiculous milkshakes (the kind topped with basically an entire second dessert) while Ron loaded our gear onto the cart and we headed off to our second gig of the day.  I felt bad that we couldn't stick around and watch Tall as Men play, but we had to get going.

It was a bit of a difficult transition between the fair and the Beach Hut.  The energy of a fair, where you're next to a beer tent and there are a lot of people around and constant movement, is very different than the energy of a small room where people are sitting and listening.  It's not bad or good, things just feel different and it's hard to move from one headspace to the other. 

I was kind of keyed up and exhausted at the same time, so it took me a bit longer to settle into a groove than at the Fair, but I got there eventually.  There weren't many people there, but it was an enthusiastic audience who really seemed to enjoy what we were doing.  We mostly played the same set as at the Fair, since we knew there was no overlap in audience, with a few substitutions and additions.  The Fallen Stars joined us for "A Song For You," which made it extra awesome.  I love the way Tracy plays bass on that song and Bobbo did a really beautiful slide solo.  Then we got to watch Bobbo and Tracy do a great set of music.  Afterward we talked more about our proposed super group (and Tracy finally found a name: Starbird Falls), had an impromptu Jayhawks singalong, and split a lemon cookie, which was the best way to end the evening.

OC FAIR SETLIST:

Get Outta Town

Jenny Lynn (won't you come home)

Lie To Me

Water's Edge

Emmylou

Alright Now

Today I Started Loving You Again

Return of the Grievous Angel

BEACH HUT SETLIST:

Get Outta Town 

Jenny Lynn (won't you come home) 

Lie To Me 

Water's Edge

Willin'

A Song for You

Alright Now

Today I Started Loving You Again

Return of the Grievous Angel

Gone Gone Gone

Pandemic Update 

Wouldn't you know it, we release an album, go on a little vacation, and then the world goes to hell.  Like everyone, we've been laying low since the pandemic started.  I work in healthcare so I've been going to work every day like normal, except I'm busier and working long and weird hours.  Ron is in multiple high-risk groups, so he's been staying home.  We were really sad when the Tucson Folk Festival was cancelled and so were any potential future gigs.  We've done a few livestreams on Facebook, including one with our friends The Fallen Stars where we were able to raise over $500 dollars for BEAM, which was awesome.  But even so, it's difficult to play on a livestream.  It feels a little like you're playing into the void.  A big part of live performance is that connection with the audience, even if you're fighting with the football game or espresso machine in the background.

Moving on to happier things, I bought a really cool guitar (pictured above) and it sounds fantastic.  I don't really know a lot about guitars.  I just know whether I like how something sounds and how something feels when I'm playing it.  And I know I like how this guitar sounds especially with Ron's guitar.  There's a bit of learning curve for me with it because it's got a bigger neck than I'm used to.  I'm very used to the little Martin guitar I've been playing for years, so...practicing (which I always need to do more of anyway).  We're also working on some new songs because once this whole thing is over (whenever the heck that is), we are itching to get back out to play live and to record some more and we would love to have new material worked out.

    Stay safe out there (or rather in there) everyone.  Wear your masks.  Check in on your friends.  We'll see you when this is over.

    Good Work 

    We've been busy the past few weeks.  It's been a lot of work to finalize our album--listening to the masters to make sure that everything is as good as we want it to be, finalizing the artwork, making sure the printer/duplication has everything they need, setting up a pre-sale (working on it!)...This is the first time we've ever put out an album and it still feels like we are flying by the seat of our pants

    Of course, we've been really, really lucky to have a lot of guidance and mentoring from Bobbo Byrnes, who is one of the most generous and talented musicians in Orange County.  Seriously, if you haven't already, go listen to what he does both solo and as part of his band The Fallen Stars.  It's awesome.  (He also was our recording engineer/producer which is probably a big part of why our album sounds so good).

    A black and white photo of four people standing with arms around each other's shoulders.  On the left is a tall man in black with an Elvis-type pompadour (Michael Ubaldini).  Next to him is a man in a hat with a bandanna around his neck (Mark Huff).  We are to the right of both of them, smiling.  Ron is wearing cuffed jeans and Jen is in a black dress and light colored sweater.

    We've also been playing some shows.  We played a gig at Michael Ubaldini's Outlaws of Folk Series.  We'd never played as part of this and it was a new venue for us as well.  I can't speak for Ron, but no matter how much I do this, I always feel a little bit of trepidation playing in a new venue, outside of the "bubble" where we usually play.  I get a little nervous about fitting the "mood" (for lack of a better term) of the place.  But of course everyone was super cool and talented (check out Mark Huff and The Pollen Collective), like they always are.  It's just funny what sticks with you and what you can't let go of as a performer, even after years of doing it.

    We have one more show coming up tomorrow (February 8) at the Beach Hut in Huntington Beach, a showcase hosted by Chris Cruz.  See our shows page for more details on that.  Then we have our album release party coming up February 22nd!  We want to see you all there!

    Upcoming Album! 

    Look for our album "Better Days", on sale on 2/22/2020.

    It's a 6-track EP, with four of our original songs and two covers ("Willin'" by Little Feat and "Return of the Grievous Angel" by Gram Parsons/Tom Brown).  This album is ten years in the making (sort of...we've only been recording it for about 10 months, but we've been playing together for 10 years), and we can't wait for you to hear it.  Check our Shows page for information about our release party!