What a fantastic tour in Austin! Bob Story and I headed there for four days where we made many new friends, played fantastic music, ate great food, heard some amazing musicians across the city and spread some positive messages to a host of new audience members. Last summer, I put the intention into the Universe to go to Austin to play during the annual SXSW music festival and the results couldn’t have been better!

It all started with a discussion with a friend Diane Beerline who I met through a women’s networking group called Tobi Hunt Events. I mentioned I wanted to go to SXSW not knowing that she used to live in Austin. She mentioned a friend Riki Rushing who still lives there and that she might have a place to stay if we went. When I asked if she also might be willing to host a house concert she was hopeful. Several months went by and one night in November I attended Diane’s Private Quarters sales event. “You’ll never guess who’s here visiting me from Austin!”  Riki and I talked for a few minutes and she said she would love to host a house concert at her home, so the tour was on!

With help from Carla Currie at Journey Mates, we were also booked for a Sunday morning church service at Unity of Wimberly, Texas and we started putting together a concert with three other artists. We also ended up with a daytime gig at one of Austin’s infamous “Food Truck Courts.” No official SXSW showcase, but actual gigs where we would make money!

On Friday afternoon we checked out the SXSW madness for the first time. 2,000 bands (not a typo!) and anywhere between 250-350,000 audience members descend upon the city for the annual event. I have never seen anything like it. For several miles, it was non-stop music in every imaginable venue. From the rooftop of Whole Foods to tents in every open space and endless clubs, there was every type of music to be found. I would best describe it as Memphis meets the French Quarter during Mardi Gras! Let’s just say we felt a little old as we walked around. We walked for miles and enjoyed the free music. We didn’t have a badge or wristband, but we were still having a great time!

Our first concert was at the home of Riki Rushing and Allen Gilmer and what an amazing house it was! The glass walls paired with the Bose stick PA system we rented equaled and amazing sound! Brad Taylor from Austin on bass was an amazing person and player! The audience who was our age and older really seemed to appreciate an event over the SXSW weekend that was out of the fray of the 6th Street madness.

We had a beautiful place to play, and amazing place to stay and a host of new friends and fans all thanks to Riki and Allen (and of course Diane who first introduced us!). We had a surprise visit by Allana and Marsh Lavenue who I know from Boulder (Andrea Ganley’s sister!) and had a fantastic evening. My manifesting skills were becoming quite apparent! This was going to be a fantastic weekend overall!

Me with the Lavenues

Bob and I with the amazing Brad Taylor on bass

We headed to the South First Food Court the next day for a fun lunchtime gig with Kit Holmes and Alan Peterson. Thanks to Shawn Madden for inviting us to SXSO1st and putting the whole event together! I had Facebook friended my cousin Clint Welden who lives in Austin a few days before and he showed up with his family. I hadn’t seen him in many years so it was really fun to reconnect. Fun music and food-as everywhere in the city! It was great to be a part of it all.

Next up our hosts for the next two days, Kit Holmes and Cynthia Millonzi gave us a tour of their house where we would perform the next night. We were to perform in the backyard, which was completely set up for a concert! It had a built in deck to serve as a stage, and huge sound and lights system. Amazing!

That night we headed down to SXSW again along with Alan Peterson who would play with us the next day. We made an appearance at the Copycats Showcase event on 6th Street and ran into Ed Bonach who I had met at the Empower Music Conference and Posi Awards in January. OK, so it was very deliberate on my part! I wanted to see a showcase put on by someone I knew so that we could learn how to go about doing that next time. We had to park a couple miles away and had 15 minutes to get there, so we hired a bike taxi to take us. I walked in and found Ed right away, even though I didn’t even know for sure that he would be there. He gave us the inside scoop and now we know! Good manifesting!

We ended the evening by attending the Cult concert, which was on a massive stage in the park across the river. Actor Matthew McConaughey made a guest appearance on bongos. He lives in Austin and apparently plays bongos regularly on his back porch, naked. Locally this has earned him the nickname “Bongo Boy.” Pretty funny and he was pretty good!

Sunday morning found us performing at the Unity Wimberly where the amazing Kit Holmes is the music director. Wimberly is about 45 minutes north of Austin in the hill country. It reminded me and Bob of Northern Italy. The church is on 43 acres of lush rolling hills and used to be a retreat center. We were surprised that morning by a video crew from MTV who were on hand to film a baby being baptized for a documentary. In return for the synch license to use our original music in the piece, we will receive a DVD of the completed footage including the music. Not a bad deal seeing as they had three cameras and it was MTV filming!

The concert that night featured Bob and me along with Kit, Alan Peterson from Baltimore and Martha Hall Bowman from Indiana. We had a great time swapping songs and singing and playing on each other’s original music. It was a fantastic evening of music and fellowship and again we gained a host of new friends and fans.

Overall it was an amazing trip and I really could not have imagined it going any better. We even saw amazing music at the airport where Blues artist Carolyn Wonderland was playing, for free! That was some of the best music we heard all weekend!

My key takeaways:

-Manifestation really works! It took a lot of trust and faith that I would be able to put all the pieces together, but as soon as I stopped worrying about the details they all fell into place.

-I would “do” SXSW this same way again, but next year I am going to manifest an official showcase slot so we can get badges to attend the conferences and network with more musicians and industry people. The fact that we have now played in Austin to actual crowds will help us to secure a slot. I also have an idea of the venues in which our music would work.

-Even if we don’t get an official slot, there are many ancillary “festivals” going on at the same time that are hosted by various companies so there are ample ways to play-for free. None of the showcases pay, and in fact some of them ask the artists to pay to play. And for what? The remote chance that some music exec or label will hear them. From what I could see, it’s a huge long shot. I’ll stick with the paying house concerts and try to get a few free things thrown in as well.

-Having places to stay was key. All of the thousands of bands who flew in from around the world and stayed at a hotel and played for free were spending huge amounts of money in the quest to get discovered. I’m sure for some it worked out, but not many.

-The best part of our tour was the people. We went on pure faith, I having only met out two hosts once and very briefly. We had never met Brad the bass player either. But in talking with everyone on the phone, I knew we were all on the same beautiful page in life. I trusted completely that everything would fall into place for a great weekend, and it did.

Next up for me is my show in Boulder called MMMMMBoulder on April 6 featuring my band, Rebecca Folsom and Ash Ganley along with a host of short films, art and food. Then I am joined by my friends Lisa Simmons and Marco Cremaschini of Hippie Tendencies for a show at Shine in Boulder on April 28-fun!!

Touring wise I’m headed to Lawrence, Kansas with Shawn Madden for a concert on June 2, and I am working to manifest the same in Indiana with Martha Hall Bowman and San Diego with Teri Wilder. This is my year to tour the US and I’m off to a great start. If you want to see me in your city, say the word and I will manifest it into reality!