Gaelynn Lea Music's Newsletter: 
November 2016

HAPPY FALL! This is the first newsletter I'm writing from my van... Paul & I are on a tour of the United States right now and it's  been a blast! I hope you are having a wonderful Fall and that you are preparing for winter as best you can. Take care of yourself as this holiday season approaches and keep in touch!

Thoughts about My First-Ever National Tour

As many of you know, this September my husband Paul and I sold our house, packed up the van, and left town for our first-ever national tour... Between September 29th and November 26th we will be home in Duluth (at my parents' house!) for a total of 10 days. The rest of the time (49  days) we're traveling - speaking and playing across the country.

Some of you are musicians and touring is familiar to you. But most of you, like Paul and me, haven't done this before. We're about half-way through this set of travels now and I thought I'd send out a little update:

So what is life on the road like? This particular tour covers a lot of ground (Colorado to New York to Tennessee), so there's a lot of time in the car! That's when I get most of my computer work done, while Paul drives. We've listened to quite a few audio books on the road, including The Lord of the Rings trilogy... Paul and I especially  related to Sam and Frodo on their long journey, far from the Shire. 

The car rides have been a source of great beauty - the scenery has been breathtaking, especially in Upstate New York and West Virginia. America is truly gorgeous; driving around the nation makes you realize just how much we have to be grateful for here... And how important it is for us to protect the natural beauty of this land.

Most days have a familiar pattern - we wake up in a hotel room around 10am (Quality Inn is our new favorite chain), get dressed, pack up, and hit the road for the drive to our next show... Usually this is anywhere between 2 and 7 hours away. Then we pull into the venue, sound check, eat, play a show, and talk with people over a beer. Then we make our way back to the hotel room around 1am, go to bed and do the whole thing over again the next day. It's been very fun but it's certainly not relaxing in a vacation sort of way... We could probably sleep for 20 hours straight right now!

But despite the fatigue, there have many things that have made this tour delightful. First of all, the shows have been really fun. I love connecting with people over music - the special energy of communion that is created during live performance is a blessing, and to be a part of that every night of the week is a privilege.

I am also incredibly grateful to have met Jess Klein - she's the artist who is co-billing with me on 13 shows in October. She's been touring a lot longer than me so she's been a mentor and has become a friend during our two weeks together - I will miss her after this leg of the journey! We've been singing part of our shows together, which makes each night that much more special. Collaboration is one of my favorite parts of playing music.  

Finally, we have met so many wonderful people on this trip. The audiences have been small (I am a touring newbie!) but in each city the folks who host and attend the shows have been warm and welcoming and excited about the music... That means so much to Paul and me. These people are the magical healers on our travels that give us a little boost when we're starting to get tired. The best part is that I know we'll see many of them again on our next tour, so in each town the seeds of lasting friendship are being planted. That is an exciting feeling. Although I miss my family and friends, I don't feel unanchored because of this tapestry of connections we are weaving across the nation.  

In short, touring has been one epic adventure so far! I am learning so much about our beautiful nation, music, and the kindness of others... For these lessons and for your support I am extremely grateful.

  • 10/30 Southgate House, Newport, KY: Tickets
  • 11/1 Barley's Taproom, Knoxville, TN: More Info
  • 11/2 Music City Roots, Franklin, TN: Tickets
  • 11/3 The Bluebird Cafe, Nashville, TN: Tickets 
  • 11/4 Tim Faulkner Gallery, Louisville, KY: Venue Info
  • 11/5 Smokestack, Dubuque, IAMore Info
  • 11/8 Bulldog Pizza, Duluth, MN: More Info
  • 11/10 ALLY People Solutions Gala, St. Paul, MN: More Info
  • 11/11 Simply ArtAble Fundraiser, Minneapolis, MN: Tickets
  • 11/12 Beaners Central, Duluth, MN: More Info
  • 11/14-11/18 MPR Class Notes Residency, Bemidji, MN: More Info
  • 11/19 Amsterdam Bar w/Mary Bue, St. Paul, MN: Tickets
  • 11/20 Roseville Lutheran Church, Roseville, MN: Tickets
  • 11/22 SPACE, Evanston, IL: Tickets
  • 11/25 Gaelynn Lea Performs w/Pigface, Chicago, IL: Tickets
  • 11/26 Cafe Carpe, Ft. Atkinson, WI: More Info
Live-Looped Holiday Carols Released November 11th

Christmas has always been my favorite time of year - my husband and I got married 4 days before Christmas for this reason. Something about the snow the shorter days and the twinkling lights and the music and the time spent with family all have a certain coziness and magic to them that just isn't there the rest of the year. So as soon as I recorded my first full-length album in November 2015 I knew I'd want to tackle a Christmas album shortly afterwards... I guess I'm just a sucker for the the holidays! 

So this Fall before we hit the road, I recorded a holiday album at Sacred Heart Music Center in Duluth, MN with sound engineer Jake Larson. He's the person who recorded my first solo album, All the Roads that Lead Us Home.  Fellow Minnesota musician (and friend!) Al Church added guitar, Rhodes, and percussion on half of the tracks.

The finished product ended up being 13 tracks; 10 of them are instrumental and 3 have vocals. My selection process was really quite simple - I basically chose the Christmas songs I like the best! I really love the old, traditional carols that have been around forever. Some of them will be very recognizable to the listener and a few are a bit more obscure.  

I wanted to make these old melodies come alive again by creating a listening adventure for people of all ages. I used the looping pedal to craft layered, meandering tracks and I often combined different tunes in unexpected ways. I also tried include a wide range of moods on this album and it is my hope that people will see the finished product as a sonic journey through the Christmas season -- the darkness of winter contrasted with the bright light of hope. I would love this album to become a new holiday tradition for families everywhere!

This album was partially funded by YOU via pre-orders... So THANK YOU! I will be shipping your orders out when we get home. You can still pre-order a signed copy of my album here - it will become available on iTunes and other retailers on November 11th!

You can learn more about the album at my website... I am really excited to share this music with you! Happy Holidays, Friends!

Gaelynn, Paul, and Leah Embark on an Adventure of a Lifetime

I suppose it's stating the obvious to say that 2016 been an absolute whirlwind - I am so grateful for the adventures Paul and I have had!

  But it turns out this year's adventures aren't quite done yet! Earlier this fall I got an offer to perform in Prague as a guest artist with the band The Tap Tap  for their Christmas concert on December 6th - some of the artists in this group also have disabilities and they do a lot of performing and advocacy in the Czech Republic. They said they could provide airfare for both of us and hotels for two nights, so my husband Paul and I gladly accepted the offer! But it doesn't end there...

Aside from performing solo sets, I also play in a band called The Murder of Crows with Alan Sparhawk of Low.  It just so happens that Low will be doing a Christmas tour in Europe around the Prague show is happening. When Alan found out that Paul and I were headed to Prague, he made the very generous offer to have me open  for Low at three of their shows - Belfast, UK on December 12th, Dublin, Ireland on December 13th, and Kilkenny, Ireland on December 14th! This was also very exciting turn of events and Paul and I once again accepted the offer.

After it became clear that this Europe trip was for sure happening, I worked on adding at least one more show for good measure - so I will also be playing at  The Windmill Brixton  in London, England on December 7th!

These were all very exciting developments indeed... I have never been overseas and the idea of traveling with my music is literally a dream come true! I immediately began to prepare for the trip... We got our passports and scheduled the airline tickets and began to research transportation options once in Europe.

But as we began to make our travel plans, I realized that it wasn't going to be possible to travel with my electric wheelchair due to the age and inaccessibility of the buildings and infrastructure in Europe. This meant that we would need to find another travel companion to go with Paul and me in order to make the logistics feasible. 

I am unable to push a manual wheelchair, so I need a lot more help with mobility when that's my only mode of transportation. Having traveled this way before, we knew that Paul would not be able to carry all our luggage, my instrument, and handle my wheelchair simultaneously. It would be too dangerous.

So in order to make this trip as safe and efficient as possible, we decided to ask our friend Leah Nelson to go on  this trip with us. She is a very special friend to me - we go back 10 years now! She is not only the person who suggested that I start teaching fiddle lessons, but she also is the woman who filmed my Tiny Desk Contest submission video. So on a personal note, it means a lot to me to have her join us on this adventure.  

However, once we asked Leah to come with us, the financial reality of this trip began to set in... Although this is truly the opportunity of a lifetime, we won't be earning nearly enough to cover all the expenses. 

That is why I created a GoFundMe campaign to help raise support for the European tour. I asked for $5,000 to cover our out-of-pocket expenses. And then  something wonderful happened! Because of your generosity, we  not only met our fundraising goal for the December tour in Europe, but we've EXCEEDED it by over $2,000 in just over a week! Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! 

What a testament of your love and support... I was so incredibly moved! This is just one more example of the power of individuals combining their gifts to make something special happen... Now Paul and Leah and I can tour Europe safely with the help and resources we need. YOU are the reason this tour is possible. 

I am so excited for this tour, but the reality is that none of this would be doable without support. As an artist with a disability I can travel, but the assistance of others is absolutely necessary. This need for extra assistance can pose some additional barriers, but so far we've always figured out a way to make it work... This European tour will be no exception!

Any funds raised beyond this point will be saved for the recording, mixing, mastering, and printing of my next full-length solo album, which I plan to release in late 2017 or very early 2018. Please know that I take your generosity seriously and I vow to be a good steward of your donations. Recording an album is a costly labor of love, so any amount of support I can raise towards that project in advance will be extremely helpful... So feel free to keep spreading the word about this campaign if you feel so moved!

Again, thank you so much for your support... I promise to update you on all our adventures this December! 

"Once again Gaelynn Lea proves she's a powerful craftswoman, a spellbinding singer and a violinist with a solid understanding of how to conjure a mood."
- Tony Bennett, Duluth News Tribune