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JUDY LUNN: Judy's Journal

AUSTIN - THE LIVE MUSIC CAPITAL OF THE WORLD


I’ve started a big, bold new chapter in my life …. today I arrived in Austin, Texas – my new home.  This was a huge decision, one that I have been considering for many, many years.  When I was in the hotel business in California, I had the opportunity to talk to visitors from all over the country.  Always the question “Where Are You From?” would come up in conversation – and the most enthusiastic responders always came from Austin.  I was told that Austin was a unique city – there was nothing like it in the rest of Texas.  What makes it so unique? I would ask.  Some of the responses were:

1.  The MUSIC, of course – On any given night, there are over 200 live music events happening
2.  The people – younger, well educated, laid-back, friendly, non-competitive, nature loving
3.  The climate – the weather map always showed Austin to be 10 to 15 degrees cooler than Palm Desert, CA where I lived.  This was a big deal for me, because I’m a big fan of sunshine, not snow!
4.  The environment – eco-friendly, with plenty of “green” parks, hiking and riding trails, etc.
5.  The economy – Austin has consistently been rated high as a good place to work with a reasonable cost of living.
6.  Education – home of the University of Texas as well as many other fine universities – there are so many opportunities to continue to learn and grow with the lectures, concerts, theatre productions etc. that are found in a college town.  I need to get settled, find some steady income, and immerse myself in the music scene first …. but down the road I may consider getting an advanced degree in Instructional Technology – which harnesses all of the new multimedia to teach.   I’m also interested in learning more about Music Therapy.

In this next chapter of my life – I’ve decided to move to a new place where no one knows me.   In this environment, the music is everywhere – the stakes are higher, as is the competition.  This will force me out of my “comfort zone” and hopefully elevate me to the next level in my musical education and performance.  A change like this is scary, no doubt – but I feel I’ve made the right decision, and so far everything “feels right.”  I’m on the path now to my more authentic self.  I don’t know what the future has in store for me ….. all I know is that I want to be true to my personal mission of sharing the gift I’ve been given to entertain, educate and inspire through music.

"Eagles and Horses" Peformed for 3600 People At The McCallum Theatre!!!

The McCallum Theatre is a 1200 seat, state-of-the-art performance theatre located in my hometown of Palm Desert, California. www.mccallumtheatre.com It has been described as the “Tiffany’s” of performance theatres for many reasons. The size is just perfect, in my opinion, the theatre is gorgeous, the sound system is stunning, there is always a lot of positive, creative energy in the room, yet is still feels very warm and intimate. I would attend EVERY live performance at the McCallum if I could afford it! “Open Call” is a valleywide talent contest produced by the McCallum Theatre Institute – the education department of the theatre. This annual fundraising project contributes over $100,000 to their annual budget. The participants benefit just as much – they are given the opportunity to learn how a professional theatre production is created. There were 144 applicants for the production this year – 84 were invited to audition, and 27 acts (representing 45 people) were chosen as the finalists. The McCallum has been putting this show on for 9 years now – I’m just kicking myself for not “getting around to” auditioning for it until this year. After this experience, they won’t be able to get rid of me! There was a wonderful array of talent on the stage for 3 sold out performances – singers, dancers, musicians, and a few eclectic acts including a steel drum band and a yo-yo artist. In the past, awards were handed out by age groups and categories. I’m not sure why they changed it this year – how can you compare a 13 yr. old sax player with a vocalist and a dancer? I’m glad I didn’t have to be a judge! The winner of Open Call this year was Nico Bergmann, a 15 year old classical pianist. Nico also won the Audience Favorite award. 2nd place went to Sarah Green, the gal who sang "Good Morning Baltimore." There was an additional award, a scholarship provided by ASCAP -- which was shared between Nico (he really scored tonight!) and Ali King, a 17 year old opera singer. Although I didn't win a "cash award" -- here are just a few of the gifts I received from Open Call: • A 2nd dream came true .... I sang on stage at the McCALLUM THEATRE !!!!!!!!! • A new pair of red boots • The opportunity to hold a $5,000 Sennheiser microphone in my hand and hear the stunning musical background of Eagles and Horses through an acoustically perfect sound system. • A professionally recorded DVD of the entire show -- perfect for promotion for future singing opportunities! • Professional photographs we can purchase for publicity and promotion • New "contacts" in the music business that I am sure will grow into friends, including a songwriter, music composer, wardrobe designer, makeup artist, choreographer, stage manager, videographer and photographer. • Kajsa Thuresson-Frary, the Director of Education for the McCallum and Producer of Open Call – just happens to be a songwriter AND a neighbor (it’s a small world). She wrote a song called HOPE that was used in the finale at the end of the show – it’s a gorgeous piece of music. • Paul Cracchiolo is the Musical Director for Open Call – he wrote the lyrics and composed the music for the theme song of the production, called SHINE. These two songs blended together into the grand finale, which was a choreography miracle directed by Wayne Tibbetts. • New friends from the pool of contestants, including Nikki Hock, a massage therapist, horse breeder and riding instructor (with a gorgeous soprano voice). • The opportunity to share John Denver's beautiful music and spirit with 3600 people I don't know what I've done to deserve such magic in my life .... but I will continue to receive it with gratitude and reflect it right back!!! I'm truly one of the luckiest people on earth....

What I Discovered On Semester At Sea

Semester At Sea is literally a “floating university.” For 21 years it was sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh – this year the University of Virginia assumed this role. There were approximately 800 passengers, consisting of students and faculty representing over 200 different universities. The idea is for the students to take one semester away from their home campus – and to study abroad. The world is their campus. While we are at sea, they attend classes like they normally would. When we land in a foreign port – the classroom expands to incorporate the culture, politics and history of the country we are visiting. The idea is for the students to gain a better understanding of how 90% of the world lives, to learn about other cultures, religions and political systems, and to hopefully learn to accept and embrace diversity. They come back from this experience transformed in many, positive ways and they see themselves as true “global citizens.” Rita and I signed on as Staff Members for Semester At Sea for the Fall 2006 voyage – she has the hardest job on the ship. As the Field Office Coordinator, she is the liaison between the ship and the various countries we are visit. When we get to a port – 800 people leave the ship and jump on trains, planes and busses to participate in academic field trips to such places as the Great Wall in China or the Taj Mahal. Rita’s job is to coordinate all of the logistics for over 250 of these trips. I had the easiest job on the ship – I was involved with the Senior Adults – people like you who chose to see the world in a more academic setting than the typical cruise line. In fact, we were not allowed to use the word “cruise” – this implies a frivolous vacation or party experience. We were on a “voyage of discovery” Here is one of my favorite quotes relating to the Semester At Sea experience: Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. That is what Semester At Sea is in a nutshell. www.semesteratsea.org The staff boarded the MV Explorer in San Diego on August 21 for training. We picked up the students in Ensanada, Mexico First stop – Hawaii, then Kobe, Japan We were supposed to stop in Qindao, China – but were diverted by Typhoon Shan Shan Hong Kong, China Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), Vietnam Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) Chennai, India Alexandria, Egypt Istanbul, Turkey Dubrovnik, Croatia Cadiz, Spain Ft. Lauderdale, FL 3 ½ months, 22,000 nautical miles “Discovery,” experiences, perceptions and lessons learned are different for each passenger – but everyone comes away forever changed by the experience. For me – the most significant discovery was Burma. Burma (called Myanmar by the current government) is ruled by one of the world's most brutal military dictatorships, led by General Than Shwe. Since 1996, Than Shwe's regime has destroyed over 3,000 ethnic minority villages in an effort to root out all opposition to its rule. Over one million refugees have fled the country, while an additional ½ million remain internal refugees. One of them is Aung San Suu Kyi, head of the National League of Democracy and winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize. When her party won the national election in 1990, the military refused to turn over power, and instead incarcerated over 1200 of her political supporters and placed her under house arrest, where she has been for the past 16 years. Her book “Letters From Burma” was included in the ship’s library – and it really opened my eyes to the issues in that country, as did the filmed documentaries that were played on the ship in each port. Frontline did documentary on Burma in Oct 2006 – regarding forced labor for tourism, businesses like Unocal doing business with the military regime. Aung San Suu Kyi and her supporters are asking us not to visit her country because the tourism dollars go right into the couffers of the military govt, further suppressing the people of Burma. www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/burma601/video_index.html With the wonderful technology of the internet – as we pulled away from Burma and were heading to our next port – we were able to connect to the US Campaign For Burma via the internet – and had a web chat with Ying Lao – a Burmese exile and one of two women involved in the committee to draft a new constitution for Burma. All of the students who attended were very moved by this woman’s story, how she is working so hard to get the United Nations to intervene in Burma regarding the Human Rights atrocities going on there. Unless there is a change in the government – she will never be able to return to her homeland. She is a very courageous example that one person CAN make a difference – and hopefully her efforts will be rewarded with freedom for her and her family some day. www.uscampaignforburma.org JOURNAL ENTRY BY SHAUNA KENNEDY IN BURMA We visited a girls monastery school today. The girls were so excited to see us and we unwrapped our lunch and they all sat around with us and talked. They spoke such good English it was amazing, and the conversation soon turned to us asking them questions. I asked one girl, who I thought was just beautiful what she wanted to be when she grew up and she looked at me and said I have no choice in that. I said of course you do. One of the monks came over and sat next to me and began explaining the system that was in place in most of Burma for the orphanages run by monasteries. The monk went on to explain that the girls at the school were between age three and thirteen and if by the age of fourteen the girls had not found either a job or a husband – to repay the monastery for the care they have received they are sold. Sold. I got stuck on that word and asked what he meant. And said they are sold to men in Thailand mostly because the Thai trade pays the best. The little girl must have seen something in my face and she sat closer to me and said “that’s just the way it is – I must have done something in a past life to deserve this, I just have to be good and do my best and in my next life it won’t be this way.” After lunch we played games with the girls, duck duck goose, the hokie pokie, red rover, and all I could think about was here were girls that were playing elementary school games and by the end of the month they would sold away like slaves – as slaves basically – forced to have sex with men or work until they died as prostitutes and bar girls. Talk about growing up fast. MICRO LENDING While we were on the ship in November – the Nobel Peace Prize Winner for 2006 was announced. Muhammad Yunus is the founder of the Grameen Bank – they shared the award for their efforts to create economic and social development from below with micro-financing. Muhammad Yunus believes that “poverty in the world is an artificial creation. “Lasting peace can not be achieved unless large population groups find ways in which to break out of poverty. Micro-credit is one such means. Development from below also serves to advance democracy and human rights.” Muhammad Yunus tells his incredible story in his book – “Banker To The Poor.” Today, more than 250 institutions in nearly 100 countries operate micro-credit programs in a growing movement toward eradicating poverty throughout the world. WORKING WOMEN'S FORUM Rita saw the effects of micro lending when she was in India. She attended a Working Women’s Forum in Madras (Chennai), India. Women gather there on a weekly basis in a collective effort to help each other learn new skills and support their families financially. With loans of just $20 - $35 they are taught trades (over 200 options) and expected to support each other in small groups of 10. I held a document that showed how 3 women saved for 36 months to accumulate 1300 Rupees (approximately $25). The women are asked, “Who is the head of the household?” Inevitably they answer, “My husband.” After learning how to develop their own business, (flower stringer, incense seller, construction worker, banana vendor, coconut vendor, etc.) how to handle a loan and be responsible for debt payments, buy and prepare food for the family and care for the family, they quickly learn that it is them who are head of the household. To visit this center and see the small classrooms with women of all ages crowded together on the floors, wanting and working to better their lives was a sight difficult to describe. They smiled, they laughed, they held hands in support of each other, they were keen and interested, they still had hope and the strongest of human desires … to overcome difficult situations and carry their families with them The Indian women are funny, generous beyond belief, hospitable, and more than considerate in every way. It proves once more that people are people everywhere on earth, no matter what flag flies over their heads. http://www.workingwomensforum.org/ WOMEN'S NEWS SOURCE I was recently doing some research on the internet regarding current political world leaders who are women – and came across a fabulous site to share with you – its called www.womensenews.org and focuses on investigative reporting from around the world about women’s issues. TURKEY We were in Turkey on November 10, at 9:05 am, which was the anniversary of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (1881-1938). Ataturk was the Founder of the republic of Turkey and its first President. It was truly amazing to see the country come to a complete standstill – traffic stopped, people got out of their cars, and stood in doorways and balconies with their hands held over their hearts in respect for this man. Our guide, Ahmet Elci, proudly told us that Atatürk was deeply respected and loved in his country. One of the reasons was that 72 years ago, he gave women the right to vote and he had 21 women in his parliament. RE-ENTRY I’ve come away from this voyage with a new perspective on the world. Obviously, we can’t change things overnight, but definitely the seeds have been planted in my subconscious, making more sensitive to the signs and signals around me. I was at Barnes & Noble the other day and this book just jumped out at me. It’s called 365 Ways to Change The World – written by Michael Norton, and its full of ideas of ways we can make changes in our own lives, in our communities and hopefully that stream of consciousness will spread throughout the world.

Traveling Around The World With the John Denver Peace Cloth

I am writing this journal entry from the MV Explorer as we are about to enter the port of Chennai, India. This ship is literally a "floating university" and the program is called Semester At Sea. I boarded the ship August 27 in San Diego and we picked up 580 students, plus 100 faculty and staff in Ensanada, Mexico. We've been to Hawaii, Japan, Hong Kong, Vietnam and Myanmar in the first half of this 3 1/2 month voyage. After India we will head to Egypt, Turkey, Croatia and Spain, ending our adventure in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida on December 7. When I found out I had the wonderful opportunity of going on this voyage, I wanted to participate in an active way – and I felt the Peace Cloth was a worthwhile project to adopt on my “Voyage of Discovery.” Debra Chilton was kind enough to loan me a portion of the John Denver Memorial Peace Cloth so that I can take it around the world with me as I share John's music and message of Peace with the citizens of the world I am meeting along the way. The Peace Cloth is one way to get people to STOP and think, focus, meditate, pray, formulate an opinion, articulate a thought and get it in a tangible form so that it can be shared with complete strangers from around the world – to MAKE A CONNECTION. My goal is to collect 50 pieces for the Peace Cloth from my new international friends as well as the students here on the ship. I am really sorry to be missing all of the JD events in Aspen this year -- but opportunities like this don't come along very often! I'm already planning to be in Aspen next October and hope to present a large new section to the Peace Cloth to Debra next year.

A Message From Judy

One year ago, I was in Nashville recording my first professional CD – a tribute to John Denver called “Songs That Speak To Me.” I had the privilege of working with four of John’s former bandmates – Chris Nole (piano), Pete Huttlinger (guitar, mandolin and banjo), Jim Horn (woodwinds) and Tom Roady (percussion). I think the instrumentals on this album are stunning – as these musicians are consummate professionals. John Denver wrote so many wonderful, meaningful songs that is was difficult to narrow down the list to a dozen – but I did my best to honor the man and his music with my rendition of the songs that speak most to me. I hope you will give these songs a listen, buy the CD (so that I can pay for the production costs!) and share this website with your friends. As I write this journal entry, I am sitting in a beautiful cottage on a remote lake in British Columbia. I come here every year for vacation – it feels more like “home” to me than any place I have ever lived. Nature surrounds me in every way – I sit on the dock every day listening to the sounds of the loons, squirrels, songbirds and the wind. Spring is bursting forth in brilliant pink, purple, red and yellow flowers. The birch, poplar, Douglas Fir and spruce trees tower majestically all around me. You see more animals here than people – already in the two short weeks I’ve been here, I’ve seen moose, deer, bald eagles, osprey, herons, sandhill cranes and foxes to name just a few. The azure sky is dotted with beautiful cloud formations that reflect on the water. The sun dances on the water every afternoon and stays high in the sky until 8:30 pm. Then it’s parting gift is a gorgeous purple, orange, red or pink sunset. This is my respite from the world – an opportunity to soak in the natural energy that soothes my soul. To shut off the phone, ignore the clock, and be “unproductive” for a while. I’ve come here to focus on my music and renew my spirit. I can’t think of a better place on earth to be.

Happy Birthday John!

John Denver's birthday was December 31, 1943. He would have been 62 years young this New Year's Eve. How I would have loved to participate in a JD birthday party concert this year -- but there were none planned in my area. With a little more planning, and hopefully a sponsor next year -- I'd sure like to start an annual event to celebrate the man and his music on his special day. I can still remember getting my first guitar at 18 -- I took a year of guitar lessons from a college freshman at a local music store. He taught me classical guitar using the Frederick Noad method. Pretty boring stuff -- but essential to getting my fingers to speak the language of the guitar. I really just wanted to learn how to play well enough to accompany my singing -- so my instructor worked out a deal with me. He said if I studied my classical music, and practiced all those "Etudes in E minor" that he wanted me to learn; then I could pick some popular music to work on during my lessons. The first songbook I purchased was John Denver's Greatest Hits. The very first song I learned was "My Sweet Lady" -- I didn't have a clue what the chords were -- I just followed the little diagrams in the songbook. I headed off to Penn State in the fall of 1979 and spent all of my free time playing my guitar and developing a repetoire of songs including John Denver, Anne Murray, Jim Croce, Joan Baez, Don McLean, James Taylor, Simon & Garfunkle and other great acoustic artists. The coffee houses and student union buildings were my hangouts -- I just loved the music. I met a young man by the name of Jerre Smith in the Resident Hall where I lived on campus. I remember after dinner, we would head out to the lobby and hang out at the piano. Jerre was a great piano player -- we would sit there like The Captain and Tenille -- playing and singing till the wee hours of the morning. I wonder where Jerre is today ...

Wildlights At The Living Desert

Every year here in the desert, our local zoo is converted into a winter wonderland for the annual Wildlights celebration. The event takes place most evenings from Thanksgiving through New Year's Day. On average, 2,000 people enter the gates each night and take a relaxing stroll under the moonlight and stars through the park grounds. They are treated to a visual feast, with over 275,000 twinkling lights illuminating the dark sky. The park also boasts one of the world's largest LGB model train exhibits -- over 3/4 of a mile long -- with seven trains passing by Native American pueblos, logging and mining towns, the Grand Canyon, the Rocky Mountains and a European Alpine Village. The nightly animal show at the Tennity Ampitheater starts at 6:30 pm -- followed by two hours of entertainment (that's me!) in the Palm Garden Patio. The elevated stage is surrounded by beautiful red poinsettas and the backdrop are native plants, including the gorgeous Yellow Bell. In front of the stage are several cozy fireplaces for people to enjoy the warmth of the fire, drink hot apple cider and sing/dance along with me. I had six performances this year - Dec 2, 16, 17, 18. 21 & 23. A special thank you to TLC -- our favorite country DJ from KPLM radio for giving me a spontaneous "on air" interview to promote my new CD and my concerts at the Living Desert. This is by far one of my favorite places to sing and the staff always makes me feel like a part of them. A special thanks to Marcia Fisher, Director of Public Relations and to Garth Hoyes (my soundman), Margo Meyers (greeter), Francine Stewart, Joan Crowson & Danielle Howard (bartenders), Sharon Faler & Chris (food servers), Kay & Lara (for selling my CDs), and Bob Isenberg (Santa) for another wonderful year at the Living Desert.

Barbara McClure - The Desert Woman

For those of you who don't live in Southern California, the Desert Woman is a networking organization here in the Palm Springs area, founded by a brilliant woman by the name of Barbara McClure. She also created a magazine by the same name which is an absolute "must read." Barbara McClure is an amazing Desert Woman. Her vision/mission was to create a community of women of all ages, ethnicity and lifestyle -- who support each other's hopes, dreams and goals. This group is one of the most dynamic organizations I have ever joined -- and I am so proud to be a member. Barbara has been one of my biggest supporters in realizing my dream of becoming a recording artist. She has asked me to perform several times at the Desert Woman events, and has advertised and promoted my music in the magazine. In December, she was kind enough to do a feature article, and on December 2 invited me to sing and sell my CDs at her Holiday Luncheon for 150 people held at the beautiful Palm Valley Country Club. Like so many other women here in the Coachella Valley, I have a tremendous respect for Barbara McClure and am so grateful that our paths have crossed. She is a true inspiration and a guiding light for all of us.

Concert at the Palm Desert Library

Ken Kragen once wrote - "Life is A Contact Sport." How right he is! It amazes me how this "web of life" works, how seemingly unrelated events somehow connect us to the right people and place us on the right path to follow our destiny. I joined a poetry club led by Dessa Reed, an incredibly gifted writer, last year in the hopes that some of her skill and sensitivity with the written word would rub off on me. There are about 8 brilliant women in this group -- and they really do inspire me with the creativity and talent they bring to our discussions each week. Dessa and I were the guest speakers/entertainment at the Desert Woman's Luncheon last April, and many of the gals from the poetry group came to support us. Dessa read her poems, and of course, I sang my favorite John Denver tunes -- and after the luncheon, one of our poets, Janet Damron, said she was so moved by the music that she was inspired to write a poem for John Denver - which she called "Rocky Mountain Dreamer." I liked it so much I included it in the graphics for my tribute CD - Songs That Speak To Me. Another poet in the group, Joan Beasley, left the concert and told her good friend Mary Arnold about my music. Mary Arnold is the Special Events Coordinator for the Palm Desert Library. She called and invited me to perform for their patrons. See how we are all connected??? I really enjoyed playing for the 80+ people who attended my first concert of the season. Many of the attendees were new to me -- and some of them didn't know who John Denver was! Well, I did my best to inform and entertain them -- and we all had a great time! Mary has invited me back to the Palm Desert Library in the spring -- so be sure to check the "Calendar" link for new dates/times!

John Denver Festival - Aspen in October

Aspen, Colorado – what a beautiful place to be in the fall! This was my very first trip to Aspen, and to the “Aspen In October” event, which is a 6 day festival celebrating the life of John Denver. Although I’m a huge music fan, I never belonged to “fan clubs” – and had no idea how wonderful these groups can be. Chris Nole told me about this event when we recorded my album in Nashville. He thought it was the perfect venue to showcase my John Denver tribute CD “Songs That Speak To Me” – as the attendees are true John Denver fanatics like me. Am I ever glad I took his advice! A whole new world opened up to me in Aspen – as a “newbie” or “Aspen Virgin” as they called me – I was like a kid in a candy store – a sponge just soaking up all of the incredible music, meeting new friends, “networking” with the other entertainers, selling my CDs and generally just “feeling the love” and the wonderful spirit that permeated throughout the gathering and seemed to drift into the streets of Aspen. It was such a wonderful, uplifting experience that I intend to return every year to “Aspen in October”. If you would like more information about this event, go to the following website www.john-denver.org and check it out! Click on the “Photos” link on my website to see pictures of some of the people/events described below: Rita and I traveled 1900 miles in our 21’ RV (we call Turtle because it carries our house on its back!) from our summer home in British Columbia to Aspen. We arrived on Wednesday, October 5 late in the evening, and since we had heard that parking in Aspen was limited – we decided to “boondock” in Basalt that evening and venture into Aspen in the daylight. Basalt is a very lovely little town – and when we stopped at the local library the next morning to inquire about RVing options in Aspen, we met a local young man by the name of Brian, who very enthusiastically purchased my CD on the spot! What an encouraging way to start the week! Aspen is gorgeous at this time of the year with the golden Aspen leaves shimmering against the dark evergreens. The town is only a square mile, so it is quite easy to walk around. The primary hotel used for the festival is the Mountain Chalet. Most of the smaller concerts were held there – and every evening the attendees would gather in the lobby of the hotel to sing and tell stories till the wee hours of the morning – what a delightful time this was! When I arrived at the Mountain Chalet Thursday morning, October 6 – the first two people I met were Thea Harrah and Deborah Barton. They could tell I was a “newbie” right away – and were so warm and inviting – I knew I was in good company. They gave me some good advice about what to expect for the week. Thea was the first person at the festival to buy my CD, and Deborah bought one as well later in the day. Mary Allen & Chuck Wilkinson joined us in the lobby and we walked together to the John Denver Sanctuary for the first event of the week, called the “Meet and Greet”. The John Denver Sanctuary is a collection of large white boulders in a park, with the words to many of his most famous songs carved into the rocks. It is a very beautiful, peaceful place to be any time of the year. Deb & Keith Perry and Harold Simmons welcomed everyone to Aspen. Harold gave all of the “newcomers” a chance to introduce themselves – people came to Aspen from Germany, Holland, England, Spain, Japan, New Zealand and Australia for this festival. Deborah Barton invited me to join her for dinner at the Woody Creek Tavern, a local favorite hangout, where I began my unofficial “margarita survey”. Betsy & Noel Woodberry joined us for dinner and were gracious enough to give me a ride “home” to the RV at the Buttercup parking lot where we “boon docked” for a couple of nights. The first concert I attended – “Friends With You” was held at the beautiful Aspen Community Church. Mark Cormican, Chris Collins and the Boulder Canyon Band were delightful to watch and listen to. Chris Collins bears the closest resemblance to John Denver of all the entertainers, he has an eternal “grin” on his face, does a wonderful “Kermit The Frog” imitation/voice, is a great songwriter, and has a wonderful rapport with the audience. I really enjoyed listening to him this week. On Friday – I joined Shari Sullivan and the “World Family of John Denver Singers” to entertain for the residents of the Pitkin County Assisted Living Center. What a wonderful way to “give back” to the local community. Then I attended the Peace Cloth Event, which included a concert with new performers Ken Dravis and Tim Durnan from Sacramento and a silent auction. The highlight of the day for me was the opportunity to meet John Denver’s mother, Erma and to give her one of my CDs. For more information about this important project, check out the website www.johndenverpeacecloth.com. After the concert, I finally had the opportunity to meet Judy Therrien. What a dynamo she is – so friendly and outgoing and enthusiastic. She made me feel very welcome throughout the week and introduced me to everyone she knew (and she seemed to know everyone!) I joined Judy and her friends Sharon Perry for dinner at the Cantina restaurant (wonderful Mexican food!) and enjoyed getting to know them. Dennis Ducey joined us as well – he is videotaping all of the events this week for a future DVD to raise funds for the Windstar foundation. Friday night I attended the 8th Annual John Denver Tribute Concert held at the beautiful, intimate Wheeler Opera House. I watched Chris Nole, Jim Horn, Pete Huttlinger, John Sommers and others play the music that I love so much. One of the highlights of the concert for me was after the intermission, when we all came back into the concert hall – Chris Nole was playing the piano all by himself on the stage. He was playing one of his personal favorites – Whispering Jesse – and we all thought it was an instrumental solo. But halfway through the song, John Denver’s voice came through the speakers – it was as if he was right there in the room with us – it was so hauntingly beautiful it sent chills up my spine. Another highlight of the concert was to watch my favorite guitarist, Pete Huttlinger, perform with HIS mentor, Mike Taylor. Mike was John’s original guitarist. He cowrote “Rocky Mountain High” with John and created the signature guitar licks on many of John’s songs that we all know and love. Pete and John played in instrumental version of “Late Winter/Early Spring” that has never been recorded. It was magical. I bought a VIP ticket so that I could attend the post-concert reception. I was hoping to meet John Denver’s Tour Manager, Kris O’Connor at the reception, but he didn’t show. I did get to reunite with Jim Horn, Pete Huttlinger and Chris Nole, and had the opportunity to introduce myself to Mike Taylor, Kenn Roberts of the MUSE Foundation, Jim Salestrom, Mack Bailey and Bill Danoff. On Saturday, October 8 Pam Beasley and Mary Ledford hosted the “Let This Be A Voice” concert/luncheon/auction. I really wanted to be a part of this concert – but as with the other events this year, the performers had been scheduled since January, and they couldn’t fit me in. Pam and Mary consoled me, however, by allowing me to sell my CDs at their sales table just outside the ballroom. So, I set up camp right beside illustrator Christopher Canyon who was selling his childrens books. I figured, while the folks were waiting in line for Christopher to autograph his books, they might as well listen to some music samples from my CD! So, I simply asked the folks passing by for 1 minute of their time, and as they put the headsets on and listened to the song of their choice from the CD – I knew I had ‘em hooked! I had a very successful afternoon and enjoyed getting to know Carol Blevins and Dottie Honer, who were selling t-shirts, calendars and other John Denver souveniers beside me. They were both very supportive, and I know we will stay in touch long after this week is over. Mary Allen stopped by to chat for a while, and before she left, she gave me a silver stone with an angel engraved on it. She said – you are walking around here with angels on your shoulder, and now you have one in your pocket! What a sweet gift from a wonderful new friend! I didn’t attend the 2nd concert at the Wheeler Opera House Saturday night – but I’m told the Chad Mitchel Trio was fabulous as they reminisced about John Denver joining the group 40 years ago! I went for my second margarita survey to the Su Casa restaurant right across the street from the Wheeler, took a quick nap, and then “hung out” with the rest of the attendees at the Mountain Chalet till the wee hours of the morning. There were too many people to fit in the lobby, so we all moved to an upstairs ballroom and sat around in a big circle, taking turns singing our favorite John Denver songs and sharing our experiences. I personally enjoyed the music of Jim and Anne Curry – in my opinion, Jim has one of the finest voices I’ve heard this week – and I wish I could have heard more from this dynamic duo. The evening felt like a great big slumber party – what fun! I remember walking the 5 blocks from the hotel in the dark, crisp night, completely exhilarated by the whole experience and finding the RV parked in a quiet residential section of the city for the night. On Sunday, I joined John Denver’s Windstar Foundation, fulfilling a promise I made to Shari Sullivan. We got directions to the Windstar site, and joined about 75 people to learn about this organization that John founded with his friend, Tom Crum. John’s brother, Ron Deutschendorf is the current President of the organization. For more information, go to the following website http://www.wstar.org. Chris Collins was very gracious to invite me to sing one song in front of this group. A musical highlight of the concert was to hear Paul Swanton on guitar and Diane Ireland on flute – playing one of Pete Huttlinger's arrangements. Both of these performers are extremely talented, and I hope to have the opportunity to perform with them in the future. Afterwards, I went out to see the statue of John Denver which stands gracefully on the grounds (see picture in my Photo gallery). I had one more margarita at the Cantina restaurant – and I have to say they won the margarita survey hands down! What a lovely setting this was – to watch the snow falling outside the window, with the begonias still blooming in the flower boxes outside, refusing to give in to the approaching winter season. That evening, we attended a concert put on by Mack Bailey, Chris Nole and Pete Huttlinger. Mack is a terrific singer, and you already know how much I admire and respect Chris and Pete. Chris played a few songs from his new CD “Little Rum Boogie” – my favorite song on it is his parody about health food – the song is called Foo Foo Food and it’s very funny. As Rita and I were walking “home” to the RV after the concert that evening, we were enjoying a wonderful stroll along the same route that I had walked the evening before. It was close to midnight again, the air was very crisp and still, and there was hardly any traffic at this time of the night. Rita noticed something moving about 20 feet away from us as we were passing an alley – and she grabbed my arm and said – “Judy – start walking faster and get over to the other side of the road – there’s a black bear in the alley!” I just laughed at her and said “No way! You probably just saw a dog! But she just kept pushing me ahead until we got to the RV which was literally two blocks away. Because I still didn’t believe her, she got behind the steering wheel and drove the RV back to the alley, and in the headlights we could see a black bear with a collar, that had just dumped a garbage bin over and was having a midnight snack. Because we startled it, the bear stood on its hind legs, and although it was only about 7 feet tall – I can tell you the hair stood up on the back of my neck just thinking that I could have bumped into that bear the night before when I was walking down the main street of Aspen without a care in the world!!! I would never expect a bear to be wondering in downtown Aspen, but I sure learned a valuable lesson that night!!! Monday, October 10 was the last day of the JD festival. It was also the day that I would finally get to do a live performance – thanks to Judy Therrien and George Schumer of the Singing Skies Foundation. Judy was the only concert organizer to find a slot in her program to squeeze me in – and I will always be grateful to her for that. The concert was called “New Friends To Find” – and it featured the new performers at this year’s festival, including Tim Durnan, Steve Brook from Spain, Rene Wingelaar and Arno Cornellisen from Holland and Shirley Pestana. Personally, I think this concert should have been at the beginning of the week rather than the end – as all of these performers were absolutely wonderful and worth seeing. By Monday, many of the attendees had already left town – but we sang our hearts out to the 50 people who stuck with us! What a pleasure it was to work with Judy, and to have the opportunity to work with a “pro” on the sound board. Gordon Wilder used to work at the Wheeler Opera House – and his skills as a sound technician really enhanced all of the performances. When I was doing my sound check – he paid me the highest compliment – he pointed to his arm and signaled that the music was giving him “goose bumps”. Afterwards, he took the time to talk to me about my performance, telling me how much he liked the clarity and maturity in my voice and my ability to add the vibrato to the clear notes in just the right amount and length. That was the first “feedback” I’ve received from an industry pro – and I was very grateful for his kind comments and advice. I was only scheduled to sing 3 songs, and as luck would have it, in the middle of the 3rd song – the sound and lights went out! Yes, the city of Aspen had a power outage right in the middle of my medley! I finished the song acapela – and told the audience – “Now you’ve got to buy my CD so you can hear the incredible instrumentals that I am hearing in my head!”. Rene and Arno from Holland got up to play their set without amplification as well. They just played their guitars acoustically and sang a little louder! Rene sings his songs with wonderful sensitivity – I especially liked “The Garden Song”, and Arno is a very accomplished guitarist. When they were finished, the power came back on! So, they repeated their songs with the mics and speakers working this time, and then Judy invited me back onstage to sing my final song again. Since it is called the Lover’s Medley – I had to find a romantic couple in the audience to help get me in the mood. I had been watching a lovely couple all week – Aspen and Russell – and so I put them on the spot and had them sing to each other as I sang the verses from “My Sweet Lady”, “Annie’s Song” and “For You”. They were really sweet and sang right along. After my performance, I got to sit in the audience and listen to Steve Brook play his guitar and sing. I was really touched by his beautiful voice and his songs. Steve is a very gifted songwriter, and he dedicated two of his original songs to John Denver -- “On Angel’s Wings” and “Shooting Stars”. You can hear samples of them on his website http://www.stevebrook.com. Rita and I bonded with Steve and his lovely wife almost instantly – and we hope to visit them in Spain. Steve has offered to help me write a song about my recording experience in Nashville – and told me about a song that he wrote specifically for a woman to sing. What a fabulous opportunity it would be to record it for him! It was experiences like this that “filled me up” all week – I can’t believe how many wonderful people I met in Aspen and how much fun I had. I look forward to making this pilgrimage every year to remember John and reunite with this wonderful group of people.

RVW Convention Concert - Gillette, Wyoming

What a wonderful time I had in Gillette, Wyoming -- singing for the RVW Convention at the beautiful Heritage Hall. This was my first public concert to promote the new John Denver tribute. Until this time, the only feedback I had received about the album were from family and friends -- so I was anxious to see how a new audience would react to the music. RVW stands for RVing Women -- it is a national organization of women who have a passion for adventure and travel. Most have retired and refuse to settle into a sedentary lifestyle. They have chosen their RV over a rocking chair -- and have more energy, courage, and spirit than most people half their age! All 330 attendees showed up for the concert on Thursday, Sept 1. I couldn't have asked for a nicer, more receptive, more appreciative audience to sing for -- and I am so grateful for their warmth and acceptance. I intend to join the Cascadia Chapter next summer and will hopefully be invited back to the annual convention next year in Kansas. If you would like more information about this fabulous organization -- check out their web site at www.rvingwomen.org

Letter to Pete Huttlinger - Guitarist - Songs That Speak To Me

Hi Pete – My “CD Baby” arrived today … she weighs less than an ounce, is 4 ½ inches in diameter, and came out “singing” for over 50 minutes! Isn’t she beautiful!??? I still can’t believe my incredible luck when our paths crossed last November while I was doing an internet search for a midi version of “Eagles and Horses.” An eBay auction popped up for one of your DVD tutorials to learn to play guitar in the style of John Denver. I couldn’t hit the “Buy It Now” button fast enough! Upon receiving the DVD, I was so impressed with your enormous talent that I went to your website to learn more about you. I booked a ticket online immediately to attend your January 2005 concert at the Dana Point Community Center in California. Your performance and arrangements from the Santa Rita Connection CD were nothing short of amazing. How can I ever thank you for putting me in contact with Chris Nole to produce my John Denver tribute album? Chris is an amazing, talented individual, and I can see why you two complement each other so well. I am still in awe of the incredible team Chris put together for this production. The reverence and respect that all of the musicians have for John resonated in the music – their performances were magical, just as Chris promised they would be. I have to admit, the first day of recording, I was so thrilled at the quality of the music being played around me, I was having a hard time focusing on “my part.” I was “spellbound” watching your stunning performances on the guitar, mandolin and banjo directly in front of me. And, right outside the door of my recording booth was the supremely talented Tom Roady, creating the “heartbeat” that can be felt throughout this beautiful production. Pete, I hope you know you have a fan (and a friend) for life … I am so inspired by your enormous talent and your gentle, humble personality. You are a true gift both in your music and your spirit, and it was an absolute joy and honor to work with you. I would not record this album without you, Chris and Jim participating in it – and now, I can’t imagine ever going into a recording studio without you! This beautiful tribute to John was destined to be created … I am just so very grateful to be the vessel for its delivery. It represents the best of all of us, and I hope you will consider it one of your favorite productions. Your performances on this CD are breathtaking, and I want to thank you again for the incredible impact you have made on the CD and in my life. I remember a singing group in college called “Bookends” – two guys with a gal in the middle creating beautiful music together. I’m envisioning you, Chris and I in this way … and I will welcome any opportunity to sing with you guys for years to come! “Where you lead, I will follow!” Sincerely, Judy Lunn

Letter to Chris Nole - Music Producer - Songs That Speak To Me

Dear Chris, Simply Stunning ... these are the best words I can come up with to describe the John Denver tribute album you produced for me. You should win some sort of “casting” award for the team you assembled on my behalf. In addition to securing Pete Huttlinger, Jim Horn and Tom Roady (musicians who had worked with John), you also invited two of Nashville’s best studio session players – Dave Pomeroy and Hank Singer to join us . The reverence and respect that all of the musicians have for John resonated in the music – their performances were magical, just as you promised. Brittany Allyn was also the perfect choice for the background vocals. She complemented my voice beautifully! And, as important as the musicians and vocalists were, you knew that the sound engineer could “make or break” the album, and took no chances in hiring the best – Ronny Palmer. Ronny’s easy going style, calm, gentle personality, professionalism and passion for making music definitely shows in this production. I absolutely loved working with him! Your choice of The Parlor Recording Studio was also just perfect for this project. You didn’t have a large budget to work with, but in my opinion you did not compromise on quality in choosing this studio. The Parlor is absolutely gorgeous, spacious, warm and inviting – the environment makes you feel comfortable, at ease and “at home” – and that feeling definitely permeated through the recording sessions. It was obvious that Robin and Larry take great pride in this beautiful, creative place, as they “checked in” on a regular basis to welcome us, make sure we had everything that we needed, and to offer gentle words of encouragement. Chris, I will never be able to convey the amount of respect and appreciation I have for your many talents. You were able to “switch roles” between Producer, Musician, Band Leader, Music Arranger and Sound Engineer with ease. It was obvious that the musicians enjoyed working with you – as you were incredibly organized, your “charts” were accurate and professionally arranged – you were easygoing, but focused on the project, keeping close rein on the time and production costs. The quality of your work and enormous scope of your talent can be heard and felt through every note of this production.. I feel incredibly blessed that our paths have crossed, and I will sing your praises to anyone who will listen. Thank you so much! - Judy

Austin, TX- Music & Event Info - July 17, 2015

 

If you are planning to visit Austin, here are a few links to my favorite music and events in the "Live Music Capital"

INFORMATION:

http://www.austintexas.org - Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau - Here's your guide to all things Austin, including Upcoming Events.

http://www.austin360.com and http://do512.com - Links to current events like "What to Do in Austin Today"

Austin Chronicle - free local newspaper - which has the complete list of music venues around town with address and phone information - and carry it around with you.  http://www.austinchronicle.com


VENUES

One World Theatre -  http://www.oneworldtheatre.org/index.aspx - My favorite music venue.  Small (300 seats), intimate, wonderful acoustics.

360 Ampitheatrehttp://circuitoftheamericas.com - outdoor stage.  I saw Lionel Richie perform here in 2014.

ACL Live is our big Music Theatre - http://acl-live.com/calendar

Austin City Limits - The longest running TV Music show in history is now in the ACL Live Moody Theatre above - here's tour info - http://acltv.com

On Sundays - the Famous Stubb's restaurant has a Sunday Brunch and entertainment - family friendly - http://www.stubbsaustin.com/gospel-brunch

House Concerts are the big thing in Texas - Paul Barker hosts one of the best - http://www.barkerhouseconcerts.com/2015calendar.html



MUSIC STORES

This is my favorite music store in Austin - http://www.fiddlersgreenmusicshop.com/#sthash.a5JZnsJd.dpbs

Hill Country Guitars - http://www.hillcountryguitars.com This is another gorgeous music store - they sell only upscale instruments - including the famous Collings guitars - which are made right here in Austin.  All of the beautiful guitar sounds on my Songs That Speak To Me album are Collings guitars.   

Collings has a tour of their factory which is absolutely fascinating - http://www.collingsguitars.com  - tours are on Fridays at 3:30 pm.


MUSICIANS

Byrd & Street - Tommy Byrd & Kathy Street - http://www.byrdandstreet.com/index.html

Chris Gage & Christine Albert - are the royalty couple in Austin's music scene - highly respected by all musicians. Here is their schedule    http://www.albertandgage.com/gigs.htm

One of my absolute favorite artists in Texas and a real inspiration to independent singer/songwriters is Terri Hendrix. Check out her website-  http://www.terrihendrix.com.   Her 'Life's A Song Workshops" are focused on songwriting, recording, and performing.  One of the most rewarding learning experiences I have ever had.  Lloyd Maines, one of the best record producers in Texas, is her playing partner and he actually takes the time to record a song for you during the weekend event.  

Susan Gibson - amazing independent singer/songwriter - wrote "Wide Open Spaces" for the Dixie Chicks.  http://www.susangibson.com

Sarah Jarosz is a teenager from Austin who has made it big - http://www.sarahjarosz.com.  

Ruthie Foster - my current favorite live performer - has been nominated for a Grammy. http://ruthiefoster.com/home/  Ruthie is the most charismatic entertainer I have ever seen.  Her rendition of Maya Angelou's "Phenomenal Woman" is one of my favorite performances of all time. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkYh2BYONms.  She participates in an annual "Blues Cruise" - that would be awesome to see!

Check the individual artist's websites - or www.pollstar.com to find where they will be performing next.

Blue Rock Artist Studio - nearby in Dripping Springs / Wimberly area - is only an hour away.  
Billy and Dodee Crockett have a gorgeous recording studio and host monthly concerts from their living room.  http://www.bluerocktexas.com

 
MISC MUSIC INFO FOR PERFORMERS 

Sign up for to get bookings here - https://www.gigmasters.com

Here is a website that helps you find or get booked in house concerts all over the country:

If you decide to do a house concert in your home (or you have a friend who has a nice living room or backyard for an event) - you can stream the concert worldwide using this service:

 

"Songs That Speak To Me" album is available on iTunes - June 30, 2015

"Songs That Speak To Me" - A tribute to John Denver - is now available for digital download on iTunes!

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