Let the Music Play

Have you ever had a song that could be the lead song on the soundtrack of a certain moment in your life?  I should start writing them down, because I have so many.  They come on my Pandora station and I am immediately taken back to a certain moment — I can smell the smells, feel in the pit of my stomach the same emotions, good or bad.  When I heard Nickel Creek live this summer, as soon as they began playing songs from their title album, I was taken back to a summer of fun at my friend Annie’s new apartment — long before her four girls, when her husband was still a lovesick college boy with unrequited love for her, when we spent hours sitting on her roof, laughing, singing, writing short stories, goofing off without cares in the world.

Accidentally in Love immediately takes me back to my graduation dance at Christendom, when that boy that I had waited for two years to ask me to dance gave me one of the greatest swing dances of my college career.  That song comes on and I’m a girl on the verge of leaving everything she’s loved for the past four years, already an emotional mess, and that boy comes through the crowd with hand outstretched.  It’s crystal clear, like the closing scene in the movie of my senior year…  minus that happy ending of the boy asking to marry me at the end.  Haha!

This morning I turned on Delta Rae’s If I Loved You, and I was back at their live show at 12th and Porter, wincing at every word of the song as it unraveled in front of me, wishing that my life wasn’t quite so movie-like at times.

If I loved you, life would be easy /
There’d be no truth that I’d be scared of

Yes, that would be lovely, I thought as I stood there with a boy I didn’t love.

But I don’t love you, not like you need it /
I don’t love you, good as you are

Stomach roll.  Why is life so strange?  You are so good… everyone’s going to think I’m crazy when I break it off…

But I don’t love you, much as I want to /
I don’t love you, no, it would be a lie /
And you deserve love, you’re better than a good day /
And you’ll find it, but just not in my eyes

Thank you, Delta Rae.

Good and bad memories, ones that never disappear, thanks to some lyrics and instruments. What will the song from this summer be?  Will it be one of the songs that I’ve had on repeat these days — or will it be one that will surprise me? All I know is that I’ll be sitting in a coffeeshop five years from now and I’ll be brought back to the summer of 2014, the crazy happy times of short-notice cookouts and road trips, the heart wrenching moments when I knelt in the chapel and asked God why He created the human heart the way He did, the strange in-between weeks of transitions and new jobs, the laughs, the tensions, the tears, the annoyances and the joys…

And I’ll be glad that we have the gift of music.

Here’s to the future soundtrack of 2014.


After these messages…

I promise I’m coming back.  Honestly.  I just finished a wonderful week at Franciscan University for a conference, I’m enjoying a rare weekend home with almost the entire family, and I’m about to head back to Franciscan to be on the team of presenters for another conference.

This weekend also sees the close of Father Kevin’s Indiegogo campaign.  As the campaign wraps up, we’re $2,000 short of our goal. I’m thrilled we’ve come so far, especially in the past week.  But I don’t want to give Indiegogo the 9% we have to give them if we don’t make our goal, so please consider heading over to Father’s page and possibly giving $10 towards his album.

As a special perk, for every $10 given, you receive an entry into a raffle to receive the beautiful handwritten icon of the Madonna of the Rosary by Britta Prinzivalli.  A handwritten icon … we’re not talking about a nice copy of an icon, like you’d pick up at your local religious bookstore.  We’re talking a handwritten icon.  It’s valued at $500, and you have a chance to win it for a $10 donation to Father.  Spread the word!  (you can see the icon here and you can find out more about Britta here.)

Okay, over and out.  I promise I’ll be back soon.

Still here – just blogging over there-

This blog generally gets neglected for one of two reasons: 1) there’s nothing going on to blog about or 2) there’s so much going on I don’t have time to blog.

My absence is due to the latter this time… between Bourbon Trailing, party hosting, wedding attending, and hanging out with my nieces, it’s been a busy month.

Posts to come.  Until then, check out my interview with Father Kevin McGoldrick, who is in the middle of recording his first album.  (Have you seen his Indiegogo campaign yet?  Please consider helping him out!)

If you’re wondering why a Catholic priest is recording an album, read on:



Father Kevin has been busy in the studio all week, but before he headed in, I had the chance to sit down with him and figure out just why he’s doing this.

Team KMcG: Okay, Father. So the first thing that might come to people’s minds is — why? Why are you taking time out of your summer to record your own album?

Father Kevin: So, for years I’ve been playing and writing … read on here.


Help a great guy & get good music.

My grandfather used to observe that even a blind pig stumbles upon an acorn every once and awhile.  That’s come to my mind before when a post on this blog has gone viral.  The readership on this blog is not extraordinarily large, which I don’t mind, but every once and awhile a post will get linked or reposted and I’ll see my stats soar for the day.  It’s not usually a post I think will go viral – it just happens. The blind pig stumbling upon an acorn.

If there was ever a post that I wanted to go viral, it would be this one.

I’ve been extraordinarily blessed by God through the people whom He has put in my life.  Let’s just say that this blind pig has stumbled upon some acorns, to continue our theme, and I know for a fact that those acorns have been placed there by God.  He has particularly placed several great priests in my life.  I think it is so that I can pray for them, for their perseverance, strength, and protection, and so my life can be touched by the extraordinary amounts of grace that come from a holy friendship.  One dear friend in particular always seems to email me to tell me he prayed for me or offered Mass for me right when I need to hear that the most.

I’m used to helping priests in various ways — teach RCIA here, proof an article there, give a homily tip, say a prayer, speak words of encouragement.  I’ve never helped a priest with a crowd-funding campaign so that he can record his first album…

Until now.

I’m so thankful that God has brought Father Kevin McGoldrick to Nashville.  He’s is a beautiful homilist, a humble worker for the Lord, and a holy priest. He’s one of those people you just like to be around — the kind of friend that isn’t the showy life of the party but makes every party more fun just by his presence.

And he’s a talented singer-songwriter.

What I love about Father’s music is that it is beautifully authentic — he doesn’t necessary sing about Jesus all the time, but you can tell his music is the fruit of the Christian life.  He’s singing about life — whether it’s coffee, Nashville, or men and women … it’s true and beautiful and good.   His genre is hard to classify, which I also like.  Around here, we call it singer-songwriter, but it’s hard outside of Nashville to really explain that.  His inspiration comes all over the map, and as a result, his songs aren’t cookie-cutter or expected.


His campaign to fund his first album launched on Saturday, and I’d like to invite you to be a part of it.

Like with other crowd-funding efforts, there are fun things in store for those of you who are able to help Father.  If anything, give ten bucks and get his music when this is all finished.  You’ll want his music — so you might as well give the $10 to him instead of waiting and giving it to iTunes, right?

If you can’t give financially at this time, send up a few prayers for Father and for this effort.  As my friend Jimmy Mitchell always says, it’s time to take back the culture – and we’ll do it one song at a time, if we have to.

It’s exciting to be a small part of this little adventure. I’ll keep you all posted… and please spread the word.  35 days to fund an album for one of the coolest priests I’ll ever meet.  Ready, set, go!


here’s to the fun stuff

When it comes to personal blogs, it seems that there are two types of blog posts.

A) The ones when people’s lives look incredible

B) The ones when you feel sorry for them.

Example A:  The SAHM posts a recipe for the incredible dinner she made last night that just happened to be gluten-free, nut-free, and organic, alongside pictures of her adorable children wearing clothes she made by hand while homeschooling them, with a Downton Abbey reference thrown in and a final picture of the flowers her gorgeous husband bought her “just because.”

Example B: The SAHM writes about the fact that she hasn’t slept in five weeks and has gained eight pounds just by looking at a Snickers bar and has to take a break from this blog post because her youngest child just pooped on the floor and where did Johnny go? but hopes to finish the eightieth load of laundry before lunch because she knows the child she just finished potty-training will probably wet the bed during her nap and why is the fire alarm going off? but maybe tomorrow she will get to take a shower if …

As a single gal, I fully recognize that I too can write either of those posts.  I can either tell you about my fun social life or I can bemoan my singleness, the state of the world today, or the various chores, errands, and to-do list tasks that haven’t gotten finished because I work all day and come home to other things that need priority- and therefore am probably just eating cheese for dinner because that’s what in my refrigerator.

Let’s go with the first, shall we?

The Derby party that almost wasn’t

The Saturday of the Derby, I went to a lovely baby shower for my friend Lori and then headed back to town for the first Musician’s Corner of the summer.  Musicians’ Corner is a fun free concert series in the shadow of the Parthenon.  A group of us met up there in the afternoon and enjoyed the beautiful (very warm) spring day.  It was a really fun, low-key afternoon with people coming and going, eating at food trucks, sweating, and listening to good music.   Holly Williams was one of the artists — she turned my head when she announced, “My granddaddy wrote this song…” and then launched into a Hank Williams song.  One of my friends wryly commented, “I think she’s going to make it in the business.”


Jars of Clay

We were planning on heading back to my friend Manda’s house to watch the Derby — we had the makings for mint juleps, Kentucky browns, and two Derby pies waiting for us. The last band to play was Jars of Clay, and we were enjoying their concert and I was losing track of time when I saw Manda packing up at the corner of my eye.  I glanced at my watch.  5:20.  Holy cow, we were going to miss the Derby.

We went into action, throwing all our stuff into bags and scattering our different ways towards our cars.  My friend Matt called back, “Do you need anything!?” as he headed to his car.  “Ice!” Manda called back, and we ran for mine.

I laughed the whole way to her house.  We were throwing a Derby party and we were going to miss the Derby.  Who does that!?

We ran into her house, I turned on the TV, we all put our hats on, KY Browns went into the oven, Matt arrived with the ice, and the Derby began.  A few people did end up missing it, but they arrived in time for mint juleps, so it was all okay.


We just threw this together.


Birds and Brandy

That next Monday, Manda and I headed south of Nashville to hit up Hobby Lobby for our Steeplechase crafting.  She needed a ribbon for her big hat and I needed some props to build my fascinator.

I love Hobby Lobby.  It’s a good thing there isn’t one near my house.


I was persuaded not to get this for my head.  Maybe next year.
(I hope you all are thinking what I’m thinking right now)

After shopping, we treated ourselves to a fantastic dinner at Gray’s on Main, the former-pharmacy turned brandy bar in downtown Franklin.  Their menu is delightfully southern, while their cocktail menu honors the drink culture of the late 19th century, when the building was constructed.


fried green tomatoes with roasted creamy corn and goat cheese,
fried pimento cheese with moonshine pepper jelly, shrimp and grits on collards, and bacon-wrapped figs with goat cheese and a balsamic reduction

The cocktail menu features brandy, the drink of the late 19th century, and so we let our waiter choose the drink he thought we would like.  After hearing what we usually drank, he advised us to try the White Mule, a play on the Moscow Mule. I loved it.  I would drive to Franklin for it.  It featured Delord Blanche Armagnac, a cognac that is sold nowhere else in the United States.  Looks like I am going to have to drive to Franklin for it.


complete with a copper mug.


It’s all in the family

I hope I don’t sound like an alcoholic, but one of the other highlights of last week was a random Thursday afternoon bourbon tasting at one of the wine stores near my house. My friend Liza had seen on Twitter that Belle Meade Bourbon was doing a free tasting and featuring mint juleps. I convinced Manda to meet me there.  We were going to pick up some things for Steeplechase, taste the Belle Meade Bourbon, and go on our merry way.  I didn’t expect that the person giving the tastes would actually be one of the owners of the distillery, nor did I expect his story to be so fascinating.  You can read more here, but basically two brothers discovered that their great-great-great grandfather had owned one of the three most notable distilleries in Tennessee (the other two being George Dickel and Jack Daniels, and he was far out-selling Jack Daniels).  The distillery closed during Prohibition and had become family lore. The brothers decided to reopen the distillery a few years ago, a hundred years after it had closed.

I loved hearing his story and was fascinated by the history and the details of distilling.  Kind of a random Thursday afternoon, but I’ll take it.



Am I in Italy?

My friend Mario turned the big 3-0 on Friday, so we all went out to DeSano’s, a local pizza place, to celebrate.  Father had told me that it was the closest I would come to Italian pizza, but I’m a bit of a snob and a skeptic, so I had to taste it to believe it.


It was pretty darn delicious.  The atmosphere was amazing — big communal tables, lots of noise and laughter, and a full view of the pizza-making process, complete with dough-tossing and audience participation.  Father announced that it was Catholic, and it was true.

Mario even got to catch some dough… while wearing a birthday cake hat made of balloons.  (the perks of having a balloon artist as a friend.)IMG_0013


The Social Event of the Spring

Last but certainly not least… the social event of the spring… Steeplechase.  You can read all about the event in last year’s post, when I became enamored with how easy, fun, and classy the event was – for only $15.  Of course, you also have to factor in the expense of your picnic and your fascinator.  But who needs to buy a $80 fascinator from Macy’s when you can make your own!?

My friend Megan got a series of awesome texts like this a few nights before….


but with her help and Manda’s shopping guidance, I managed to pull of a fascinator that didn’t not cost $80, did not feature a bird, and still made a statement.

The finished product:


It even held up in the wind.  Well, most of it.  I had a bit of a casualty with the big feather in the back, but that just means it’ll be easier to change up and update for next year’s race!

Oh, Steeplechase, how I love you.  I love your bow ties and your seersucker and your picnics and your horses.  I love the thrill of the race and the laziness of the afternoon.

The rain even held off, which seems to be a theme when it comes to the second Saturday in May.


I have the most beautiful friends.


Hello, Summer.

Well, almost.  Tomorrow is the last day of finals at school, and observing the students vacillating between the stress and the sadness of the end of the year brings back lots of memories.

Is anyone else shocked it’s May?

I have a lot of work ahead of me.  While I’ve been lounging on my couch at night watching episode after episode of Murdoch Mysteries, the days are slipping by and the summer is quickly approaching.  I have a talk on Pope Benedict, Art, Beauty, and the New Evangelization to write. I have another blog to nurture, since I want it a little beefier when my bio appears in the Franciscan Conferences program alllll summer long.  (“Who’s this girl on the very last page?  Oh, let’s check out her website.  Why is she still talking about Holy Saturday?”)

And as the weather gets warmer, my schedule will be filling up with free outdoor concerts, the kickoff of the summer social season (Steeplechase), trips to wineries, baseball games, and pool time.  When am I going to write that great American novel?

I will post soon about my sister’s fun visit to Nashville.  Until then, I’ll leave you with some pictures from Easter Monday (or in Italy, Pasquetta), most of which I spent driving.  I drove back to Nashville and then almost immediately headed further south to Chattanooga to see Nickel Creek.


Pardon me boys, is that the Chattanooga Choo-Choo?  (Why, yes it is.)

Nickel Creek was the soundtrack for so many memories in high school and college, and once they broke up in 2007, I assumed I would never have the chance to see them live.  Then my friend Trena texted me one day with the happy news that not only were they releasing a new album, there would be a reunion tour to a few select cities.  Nashville was on the tour, but on Good Friday and Holy Saturday.  Then a few weeks later I got an early-morning text from another friend: “Nickel Creek Chattanooga Easter Monday?”   They had expanded the tour!  I didn’t think very long before buying four tickets and hoping I could find two more friends to join us…

And we did!

The concert was incredible — I could dance and marvel at Chris Thile’s artistry all day.  And he didn’t even look tired at the end of it all.   They played a perfect mix of old and new. The crowd was amazing — standing shows always have their own energy, but this crowd sang, cheered, and recognized every song after a few opening chords.  It was brilliant.

IMG_7816Okay, off to go read some Pope Benedict.


Music in Music City

It’s been a crazy last few weeks, and this blog has been neglected as a result.   We hosted a fantastic conference this past weekend, which saw one of my personal heroes, Father Thomas Rosica, return to us (he spoke at our conference five years ago, too – you can read  my musings then here).  He regaled us with stories of Francis’ pontificate and the papal transition.  Ralph Martin, new-evangelization-expert-extraordinare also joined us, as did a number of local celebrities.  The snowy weather on the east coast meant that one of our speakers never made it to us, but luckily one of our professors stepped in at the last minute.  All in all, a busy weekend but a beautiful one.  I think I’m finally getting the hang of juggling these large events and enjoying them at the same time.

I left Monday morning for meetings in Washington, D.C., and I managed a quick visit with two of my friends before the meetings started.  We hit up a fantastic restaurant called Founding Farmers for a late lunch, then drank coffee (oh, Caribou, how I’ve missed you) and ate free chocolate chip cookies in the lobby of my hotel.

Now I’m taking the afternoon off from work to try to catch up with my life and do laundry.  I’m not sure what that says about my life – I’m taking advantage of time off to do laundry.  But that’s the way it’s been lately.

I looked back in my draft folder to see what I’ve missed on the blog these days, and I realized I never blogged about my musical weekend about a month ago.  Our new campus minister, Father Kevin, loves live music.  It took us the first half of this school year to realize that we need to start scheduling outings rather than just talking about them.  So back in January we scheduled a musical weekend.  The Bluebird on Thursday, the Opry on Friday, finishing up with Catholic Underground on Saturday.

Sadly, that weekend Father got sick.  But he made one out of three.

Before the weekend even began, I enjoyed a uniquely-Nashville experience – a real, live recording studio.  One of my friends, Tori Harris, is working on her second CD, and she asked a group of us to come record background vocals.  [She kept calling them gang vocals, but there was no screaming. ; )]  It was a fun experience, and I was honored Tori invited me.   Check out Tori Harris (you can get a taste of her work here and here), and be assured that when her CD comes out, you’ll hear about it here.  Even though we only heard bits and pieces of Tori’s new songs, I’m pretty excited about what she’s putting together.


This is a not-so-great picture of RCA Studio B, which was right next door to the studio where Tori was recording.  Studio B  was built by Chet Atkins and has seen the likes of Elvis, Roy Orbison, Dolly Parton, the Everly Brothers, Willie Nelson, and more.  If you come visit me, we can go take a tour.

The Bluebird Cafe

It’s hard to believe that I’ve lived here almost six years and had never experienced the Bluebird.  It’s a Nashville legend, and has recently seen even more popularity with ABC featuring it prominently in the show “Nashville.”  The Bluebird is famous for its intimate, no-frills setting that puts you close to the performers, who are often singer-songwriters.  In 1985, the Bluebird began doing some shows “in the round,” which meant several singer-songwriters would sit together and take turns singing and playing and telling stories.  Now many shows in Nashville are “in the round,” but the Bluebird remains the most famous.  On any given night you may hear from the songwriter who wrote the latest country hit  or you may hear from someone who will be discovered tomorrow.



To get a table at the Bluebird, you have to get them a week before, at 8am sharp.  They sell out quickly, although you can stand outside the day of the show and hope you are early enough to snag a seat in one of the pews off to the side.  My friends and I filled half a table, and then a few friends of the artists performing filled the others (including a co-writer, which was pretty cool).

It definitely gives you an appreciation of the art of songwriting.  I’ll be going back.

The Opry at the Ryman


I was pretty sad Father had to miss the Bluebird, although it gives me an excuse to go back.  He rallied a bit to come with us to the Opry at the Ryman, which is an entirely different Nashville experience.  Where the Bluebird really highlights the art of songwriting, the Opry is a celebration of country music  in a different way.  You don’t go to the Opry to see a particular artist, because they’re only going to sing one or two songs.  It really is a live radio show, and it features a variety of artists– so in the two hours you’re there, you see a different artist every ten minutes or so.  The nice thing about that is there are some artists you don’t want to hear more than one or two songs from…

The Opry radio show moved in 1974 out to a much larger space north of town, but during the winter they bring it back “home” to the Ryman. Since the Ryman is the best music venue in the world, Father wanted to go the Opry while it was there.  I’m glad we did, because you go the Opry for the experience of it all, and the Ryman just makes it complete.

I’m not sure how to describe the Opry, but it’s a rather lovable mix of music, kitsch, and history.  The commercial breaks are hilarious (Cracker Barrel, Humana, Dollar General) and Eddie Stubbs (the radio announcer) had us in tears with his dead-pan segues into the commercials.

Each half hour has a host and then features a handful of artists.  One of our hosts was Ricky Skaggs.


Since I don’t really know country music, I don’t really know who Ricky Skaggs is.  But I at least recognized his name.

Some highlights (besides the tears of laughter while Eddie Stubbs talked about Kleenex) included hearing Bobby Osborne and his band sing Rocky Top and Vince Gill surprising everyone by being the host of the last segment.



I wouldn’t go to the Opry every weekend – in fact, I’ve been twice and that might be good enough for this life – but it’s definitely something to experience at least once.

I’m slowly becoming at home here.