For the past year I have been working on my new full length album Appalachian Eyes. This is my first fully produced album in more than four years.
Last summer I was performing songs outside of Katuah Market in South Asheville. Unbeknownst to me, Nashville producer, (that’s Nashville, Tennessee, that is) Neal Merrick Blackwood, was buying groceries with his wife, Taryn. They both heard me performing and the next day I had a proposal from them to record in their studio.
Of course, I was skeptical. This after all, is Asheville, a small town with a micro music industry where Dozens of people (eh, hem, DUDES) have “recording studios” in their basements.
When I asked Neal to send me a link to his work I was shocked to discover the artists on his resume. Cyndi Lauper, Chet Atkins, Emmylou Harris, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan. He has worked with LEGENDARY artists and has been in the business longer than I’ve been alive.
Neal was raised in Nashville to The Blackwood family who have worked with The Beatles, Elvis Presley, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Smokey Robinson, Frank Sinatra, Alicia Keys, Michael Jackson, Bonnie Raitt, Stevie Nicks (I asked my mom to cut my hair like hers when I was six). . .
So. I went to his studio. He seemed nice. We made plans to work together. It was the height of summer and I had signed up for 2 weeks of printmaking at Penland School of Crafts. Out in the country at Penland, in the height of Appalachian summer, amongst master crafts folk, I wrote over a dozen songs worth of material for Appalachian Eyes. I also picked up the banjo for the first time and this had a strong influence on the voice of the songs.
Ten years into performing, writing and touring, I am confident that these songs are some of my best works yet.
When I came back from Penland, Neal and I immediately got to work, bringing in local legend,Chris Rosser to lay down piano tracks.
Then. . . . I got hit by a truck. Driving back from my family’s place Thanksgiving weekend, we were rear ended on the highway.
The impact of that night was beyond what I ever could have ever imagined. I had brain damage, memory loss and my abrupt crying fits wouldn’t cease. Having a concussion was one of the most terrible experiences of my life and the pain of the whip lash continued to limit, anger and frustrate me throughout the entire winter and into spring. The album got put on pause and I cancelled 2 seasons worth of performances.
Here it is 12 months later and I am just now getting BACK TO MY LIFE. I have paid off my tremendous debt thanks to fan support and a very successful Kickstarter Campaign. Thank You!
This next year you will be seeing a lot more of me on stage and in the world. I’m so looking forward to it.
Dear Beloved Ears and Hearts,
I have so many DREAM CAKES in the oven that I want to share with you – – My first DREAM CAKE is my (new) little 1907 home in downtown Asheville. I bought it by saving up funds from CD sales and shows. It took 3 intense years of HARD CORE touring. (There were definitely some weeks of peanut butter sandwiches to put the funding aside). Here is a video about the past year of transformation and madness.
COMING SOON – My new DOUBLE ALBUM of songs! I will be recording my Ten Cent Orchestra for the first time. Then I have a very fresh collection of songs that I wrote at Penland School of Crafts this past summer. These songs are ROOTED. They are MOUNTAINS. They are FIREFLY and FOREST and HATCHET. They are BANJO and FALCON. They are HAND BAKED BREAD and ANGELS. For the first time I am writing from a SENSE OF PLACE. I have a HOME and it is the BLUE RIDGE. KickStarter COMinG SooN with so MANY GOODIES. . . .
Photo: Alena Hennessy
I teach songwriting courses and am leaning towards e-courses! Once I figure out what the hell an e-course IS! and how I will ever just TALK into a COMPUTER lens! FREAKY! We will be able to CONNECT through this world wide web of love, oh yes we will. I want to hear YOUR SONG.
Next cake. I helped to launch Girls ROck Asheville this past summer. Girls Rock Camps are camps to empower, educate and spotlight young women and GROWN LADIES and are happening all over the world. Check and see if there is one CLOSE TO YOU and if they need GLITTER, GUITARS, OLD MAGAZINES, SELF DEFENSE TEACHERS, temporary tattoos, NOTE BOOKS. This is a MOVEMENT where we are raising girls and transgender youth in LOVE, in MUSIC, in a CIRCLE where THEIR VOICE is HEARD.http://girlsrockcampalliance.org/
These are the girls’ “artist interviews” from our first camp! Not a SINGLE family had to come up with MONEY to have their young women participate. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1MfvikLKzCg
I wish you joy and orange and red and yellow this fall. I wish you the COURAGE to wake up into your dream and to seek out those of us who are there to support you.
In Song, Chelsea Lynn La Bate
Dear Ten Cent Poetry Friends, Fans and Supporters,
This past year I have continued to work as a full time independent poet, songwriter and composer. As Ten Cent Poetry, I played 216 shows throughout the South East in 2012 and am happy to announce that all of the efforts to bring Ten Cent Orchestra to fruition culminated in a successful and enchanting debut performance on December 20, 2012 in downtown Asheville. I began sketching out the logo, writing the spoken word narration, drawing animations to go with that poem, video recording, meeting with arranger, Silas Durocher, to discuss and hammer out string parts for violin, viola and cello , scouting venues, calling string players, securing rehearsal spaces, designing posters, drafting press releases A YEAR AGO. It all came together, beautifully. Strings at my side, friends and fans in the audience. We performed 8 full length Ten Cent Poetry originals and will continue to bring you these live string performances throughout 2013. Silas and I will continue to write more material and the biggest show of this project will take place at the Isis Theater in West Asheville on September 27, 2013.
Ten Cent Orchestra Live – Fifty Foot Flames
All of this has been done with NO FUNDING. Fun-raising efforts are on the horizon! Please join the Ten Cent Poetry email list to be informed of upcoming performances, and please offer any support you may think we may find useful.
Carrying on the Tradition of Strings,
Chelsea Lynn La Bate
Last year was amazing. In 2011 Ten Cent Poetry played a total of 246 independent shows throughout the South East. I played the main stages of festivals with a full string section, intimate, red velvet curtained theaters, sloped front porches, laundromat parking lots, live radio shows, buzzing craft fairs, tear jerking weddings, alternative schools, private house concerts, community fundraisers and block parties. I played for thousands of dear folks like yourself, with only one blown tire, one episode of sweet talking a tow truck man, and one excruciating episode of sciatica.
In October 2011, we took a trip to Tennessee and recorded a Ten Cent Poetry LIVE album at the WDVX Blue Plate Special featuring unreleased songs “The Spice Market,” “Throw a Little Glitter in My Eyes,” “Into the Woods,” “The River Rises.” We also took a trip to Greensboro and had the honor of making a music video with Monkeywhale for the song “The Spice Market.” Check it out below.
I have grown quite fond of playing house shows. These intimate gatherings strike my strings and hold all of the reasons we come together. Food, song, stories, candles, neighbors. If you would like to host a private concert in your home, I can send you an electronic pamphlet and the how to.
I begun 2012 by enjoying the magic of my hometown, recording in my home studio, drawing images for Ten Cent animated videos, and drafting plans for the biggest project yet, Ten Cent Orchestra. 2012 will bring the Ten Cent Poetry Orchestra, a larger than life display of song, combined with rich costumes and projected imagery.
The Ten Cent Poetry Orchestra will debut in Asheville, NC. Please use this site to join the mailing list, find upcoming shows (I am always playing somewhere), stay tuned with projects and donate and contribute to the path of song. Thanks for all of your clapping and high fives, all of the emails of encouragement that you send, every ticket you buy and every dollar you put in the tip jar to keep the Ten Cent Poetry mission ALIVE.
In Song, Chelsea Lynn La Bate