Can I Suck Your Toes? What?!

So, I’m sitting at the bus stop on Poplar Avenue the other day. I was on my way home from a part-time telemarketing job I had just started. A job that required me to lie to senior citizens to get them to donate money to firefighters; knowing full well that said firefighters would probably only see ten cents of every dollar, if anything.

Not a pleasant endeavor. Especially since I was calling folks in Louisville, Kentucky; which, I was quickly informed, is not pronounced Lew-ee-ville as I’d grown up to know it, but Luuhvul (drawn out in that slurred, southern way). My east coast “accent” instantly discredited me. They don’t understand what I’m saying, I talk too fast, and don’t even know how to pronounce their city’s name. “Where are you calling from?  Why does the caller ID say Bubba Jones?”  “Take me off your list and don’t call here anymore!”

Anyway, back to the bus stop. I’m sitting there and this young brother walks up to me and says, “You have pretty feet. Can I suck your toes?” Hahahahaha. What??!! I said, “No, I don’t think so, sweetheart.” He said, “You’re laughing, but I’m serious. I can suck your toes until the bus comes. I got $15.” My mind created an instant visual; me sitting there with my foot on his lap as cars are driving by. I hadn’t eaten all day and $15 would buy me a decent meal. Women have done worse for less…

The image faded and I was back to reality. He’s a nutcase, better be nice, don’t laugh at him, and don’t get him riled up. It wasn’t real late yet; just starting to get dark. But, crazies have been known to go ballistic in broad daylight.

I calmly said, “I appreciate the offer, but no thanks.” He then started going on about how he’s been trying to find a girl and when he tells them he wants to suck their toes, they look at him like he’s crazy. Really?? Nooooooo.  I said, “Well, that’s probably not the best way to find a girlfriend.” I smiled and added, “Don’t worry, you’ll meet someone; just give it time.”

At this point, I guess he realized that I’m old enough to be his mother, so he starts going on about, “I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable. I have a foot fetish and it’s hard to meet girls who are into that. Maybe if I was your age, you’d be ok with it.” I nodded and smiled. Please go away now….

Then, he added, “You look really good for your age. You have pretty feet and a pretty face. Some women your age don’t keep themselves up.”
And what age might that be, young man? Old age?
Whatever.

The creepy dude finally gave up and walked away.  I looked back across the parking lot and didn’t see him.  I heard a car door close, an engine started, and then I guess he drove off. Probably going home to see what his Mama made for dinner.

Gotta love Memphis 🙂

I mean, really.

*smh*

Embracing the Crone

The crone. I see her every morning. Scowling at me in the mirror.  I love her with all of my heart. Even though she is in direct conflict with my happy inner child. The inner me sees her as the evil witch who wants to give me a poisoned apple. Kill my joy. Convince me that I’m old, useless, and unnecessary.  There’s no getting rid of her.  She shows up at the most inappropriate times. Nagging me. Questioning my judgement.

Sounds crazy, huh?  To some of you, maybe. Others know exactly what I’m talking about. 🙂

For many of us, finding self love is a lifetime quest. Almost from birth, we are compared to others, held to impossible standards, ridiculed, and belittled. Eventually, the voices of others become voices in your head. Constantly judging, criticizing, telling yourself that you’re not good enough.

Having come from two parents who seemed to despise me, combined with a guilt-laden 12 years of Catholic school, my self image has always been kind of skewed. It’s only as I’ve gotten older that I’ve learned to see myself as worthy and lovable.

But even now, after all of the inner work, I’m facing the crone. The cranky old madwoman in the mirror. She looks like she’s at least 100 years old. She’s tired and bitter and has no tolerance for my little girl joy and hope. She doesn’t like the smile I wear.

She’s really at it now.  You see, I just started seeing a very interesting man. I’m feeling vibrant and optimistic, but the crone is not happy.  She’s raging. “Are you out of your mind?! You’re too old to go falling head over heals for someone. He’ll break your heart like the rest of them.  Wake up, sistergirl.” I tell her I know what I’m doing.  She scowls at me. “Fool!”

I want to throw a bucket of water on her and watch her melt like the wicked witch in the Wizard of Oz.  

I know she means well.  We’re not getting any younger and I haven’t always made the best choices in men. I understand her fear.  So, with all of the love and compassion I have in me, I’m going to take her in my arms and kindly tell her to chill the fuck out.

Everything will be ok. We’re in this together and, if this wide-open road leads to a broken heart, so be it.  I’m telling her, “I love you, darlin’, but right now, you need to just shut up and let me drive.”

Libratard Revisited

Recently, a woman emailed me about a blog post I wrote a couple of years ago.  It was called “Libratard?”   I was amazed that she took the time to write such a lovely email.  She said she found my website when googling the definition of libratard.  Her co-worker had been called a libratard and she wanted to know what it meant.  There is no definition, since it’s not a real word, so Google directed her to me. Hahaha!

I went back and read that blog post and it cracked me up!  You can read it here.

And do you know what’s really funny?

1) When you Google “libratard”, my post is the top entry.

and

2) That post has more views than any other blog post on my site (thanks, Google).

So, should I write a libratard song and put a video on YouTube?  It might go viral and I’d find fame as the “Libratard Lady.” Woohoo.  I could sell downloads of “Libratards Need Love, Too” or “Say It Loud, I’m a Libratard and I’m Proud.”

Nah.  Someone would inevitably ask me what a libratard is and I don’t have a clue.  Even though there are numerous equally clueless idiots out there throwing the word around without knowing what it means.

But I do appreciate the website traffic.  A girl’s gotta get some attention any way she can…

 

wild horse - dee stone blog

Like Wild Horses

The last two days, I woke up feeling so good!
Excited about life like I haven’t been in a long time.
I can’t explain it. Nothing in my day-to-day has really changed.
But something within me has.
Energy is shifting and my Spirit is jumping for joy.
Freedom!

I’ve been writing new songs. I still intend to finish the album I started two years ago.
So much has happened in those two years.
Blessed and thankful for the journey.
It has given me the courage to stand in my own power, trust myself, and know that the Universe/God/Source/Great Spirit/Creator is always working to bring me what I need.
As it is for each and every one of us.

Running free, sending love to all…

Have a magical day 🙂

Man Wanted

I need a new man. There, I said it. I am speaking him into existence.

I’ve spent enough time soul-searching. I know who I am and I know what I want. I’ve come to terms with two marriages, two divorces, and a string of bad relationships. I’ve done the inner work and won’t be making the same mistakes.

While I love my independence, I’m tired of being alone. I want someone to snuggle with, have fun with, debate with. I want a man who understands me, or at least tries to. I know I can be…um…difficult.

I may be lonely, but I’m not desperate.  I have standards. So, while I’m speaking to the Universe, I’ll pass along a few words to any potential mates. Here goes:

1. You need to have at least 27 teeth in your mouth for me to take you seriously. I can see missing a few, but if the whole top row of the right side of your mouth is a bare, toothless gum, what the fuck is up with that?

2. You can not be on medication. Taking toxic blood pressure pills while you scarf down your equally toxic Burger King jumbo meal is ridiculous. Saying you have a bad heart when you won’t even walk two blocks to the store is just sad. Get off the pills; tell your drug-pushing doctor you are going into rehab.

3. You have to be able to hold an intelligent conversation. I’m an Aquarian girl. Stimulate my mind and I will be putty in your hands. If your idea of deep dialogue is comparing Trump to Obama, I’m bored already.

4. I love to cook and bake and I eat a variety of foods. If you are a vegan or vegetarian who looks down on lowly meat eaters, boy bye! I love raw broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, and kale, but I will be having a juicy burger on home-made bread along with my crunchy veggies.

5. I don’t watch TV. I don’t own a TV and don’t have cable. So, you coming over and occupying my couch for hours to watch some obviously-rigged game is not even a remote possibility. Sorry.

6. I love music, books, writing, dancing, and other creative, human things. I’m not saying we have to like the same things, but there has to be some commonality.

7. I don’t have a car and walk pretty much everywhere. If you get out of breath walking to your mailbox, we’ll both be frustrated.

8. I’m a moderate cigarette smoker. I’m not a chain smoker, but I do enjoy smoking. If you don’t want to deal with that, fine. But, don’t say it doesn’t matter and then constantly nag me about quitting.

9. If you don’t keep your word, you won’t keep me. I can understand that sometimes life gets in the way of our plans, but I won’t tolerate habitual liars. I want a man who is honest with me, with himself, and with the world.

10. I am, to use my father’s words, “bull-headed.” In my words, I’m a strong-willed woman. I live from my heart and I love deeply. At the same time, I’m goofy and silly and don’t take things too seriously. I’m a walking oxymoron and I’m ok with that.

11. I’m a singer. Performing brings me joy. Don’t come to my gig acting like a damn jealous fool. Ever.

12. I love sex. Some men my age seem to be struggling. Maybe it’s the medication. That’s all I’m gonna say about that. 🙂

Am I expecting too much? Well, you know what they say, you get what you expect!

Ok, Universe, bring it!

Father and Daughter Find Each Other

Check out the video below. I think it’s the coolest story. A father in Memphis finally meets his German daughter and grandson. I don’t know why it took them 50 years to find each other. but I’m happy for the father, daughter, and grandson.  I’m sure it gives hope to a lot of folks who are trying to find and connect with parents/children.  I had a friend who was adopted. He lived his whole life wondering who his birth parents were and died not knowing.

Reading the story and watching the little video clip reminded me that I never knew either one of my grandfathers. My father’s father died the year before I was born. My mother didn’t know who her father was. At least that’s what she told me. I swear, growing up, I felt like no one was telling me the truth about anything.

Anyway, years ago, when I asked Aunt Irma, my mother’s sister, who my mother’s father was, she said, “I don’t know…I think mom may have been messin’ around with the milkman.” Ha!  Did my grandmother take the secret to her grave?

Oh well, everyone’s gone now, so I’ve been searching on ancestry.com to try to find a record of something…some kind of connection. So far, I’ve found several records of my grandmother (born in Delta, Pennsylvania), her mother and father, a brother, and a husband who was my aunt and uncle’s father. Her husband enlisted in World War I and again in World War II. It’s amazing scrolling through all of the scanned records with hand-written entries.

On a 1930 census, my grandmother was listed as a widow with two teen-aged children (my aunt and uncle), and on a 1940 census, she was listed as married-head of household.  According to what was written on the form, there was no husband living there. Only my 24- and 27-year-old aunt and uncle, and my seven-year-old mother.  I haven’t found any record of my mother’s birth yet. I know my grandmother had her at home and she was born with two extra pinkies (my grandmother kept them in a jar, lol). That’s all I know.

Other than that, my mother’s half of my DNA remains a partial mystery. My search continues…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gR2UkVuB3y8

Memphis is Home Now

Memphis, Tennessee

I haven’t blogged since April of last year. April 21st to be exact; the day that Prince died. I can’t really call that a blog post. I was speechless in shock and couldn’t think of anything to say, so I posted a photo of him and left it at that.

Here it is almost April 2017 and I’m amazed by how much my life has changed since then. Last year, living in Arlington, Virginia, I was so frustrated with the local music scene that I put my music on the back burner and focused my energy on freelance work for a nonprofit called Hungry for Music. It’s incredibly ironic that I wound up working with an organization called Hungry for Music when I was literally hungry for music myself, huh? Life is funny like that.

I left the DC area at the end of October 2016, to help Hungry for Music open a Memphis warehouse. Before leaving, I researched the city and felt curiously drawn to it. I told myself that, even if the nonprofit didn’t work out, I’d be in a great music town and could work a lot more. Feeling no fear, I loaded up the Hungry for Music truck and hit the road. Well, fast forward a few months and sure enough, the founder and director decided he’s not moving operations to Memphis and is instead taking a trip around the country to promote his cause.

Meanwhile here I be, in Tennessee.  Blessed and thankful; exactly where I need to be right now. Truth be told, coming here was the smoothest transition I ever made. I found an apartment my first day in town and immediately fell in love with Memphis. I love the people, I love the vibe of the city. It’s a small town city with just the right amount of grit, lots of history, music is everywhere, and living is cheap. One added plus: the absence of pretentious folks prancing around is quite refreshing. Life is just a little bit slower and I’m savoring every moment. Who knew?

I’m in the process of cutting ties with the nonprofit. After putting so much energy, heart, and love into someone else’s vision, I was left feeling taken for granted, compromised, and disempowered. That hurt. Another lesson learned. I have my own vision for my journey on this planet and I owe it to myself to nurture that.

The first on my to-do list: revitalize my neglected website and get back to blogging. From there, I’ll start booking gigs and find some musicians who can hold it down like my fellas in DC, with a little bit of that Memphis soul in the mix. Then, I’ll get back to work on my album 🙂

Wish me luck!

These Are the Days – Video Premiere!

these are the days - dee stoneMy new “These Are the Days” video is finished! We shot the final footage a few days ago in Georgetown. It was a chilly, rainy day. I thought that was perfect since I’m singing about the “blessings in the rain.”

As some folks know, this video has been months in the making. I started with one videography team, but that project wasn’t meant to be. Soon after, I was introduced to a new videographer Sykhu, who was immediately excited about the song and the project. His production team, Villafana & Striggles, did an amazing job! Words can’t express my gratitude 🙂

This song is special to me. I wrote the lyrics when I returned to the DC area, after brief stays in Montreal and Los Angeles. Returning to what had been home, I felt that, instead of things coming full circle, I was going around in circles…still trying to figure out where I belonged.

The lyrics are introspective, but I think it’s a song that anyone can relate to. We’re all searching in some way. We all go through ups and downs, joy and pain…all of the things that make up this magical journey we call life.  We have to always remember that, no matter where we are, there is beauty in everything and everyone around us.  And, no matter how hard the road gets, the uni-verse is always standing ready to shower us with beaucoup blessings!

The music track was produced by my son aka Don Suavé, and the video features his bodacious rap performance mid-song.  The music also features DC drum-lady Kristen Arant on djembe. Hotness!

I’m proud of the video and I think it really captures the energy and message of the song.  I’ll be dropping it on YouTube in a few days. Until then, you can check it out here. I know you’re gonna love it. Show your support and buy the single!

UPDATE:  YouTube link

Am I An Anarchist?

antiPeople sometimes say, “What are you, an anarchist?  Yes. I am unapologetically anti-government, -religion, -politics, and every -ism. I am a proponent of love, freedom, spirituality, and equality. I believe we all have a right to be, create, share, and coexist without the oppressive interference of some imagined authority.   Why would any self-directed, thinking human follow man-made rules that they had no say in creating?

Whenever you hear the word anarchy, it’s used synonymously with chaos and disorder.  We’re told we need governments, police, and armies to “keep things under control” and “keep people in line.”  We’re supposed to believe that, without thugs with guns threatening imprisonment or death, we’d all spiral into a hellish abyss of self-destruction.  To use my mother’s favorite word, “Bullcrap!”

The world we live in is already chaotic, in spite of all of the laws and regulations, searches, surveillance cameras, phone/computer snooping, and the ever-increasing number of other disturbing invasions.  Actually, a lot of the chaos and disorder in the world is in response to the over-reaching claws of governments, corporations, police, and armies.

Chaos is a natural thing. Nature itself is chaotic. Anarchy is simply a natural desire to be free from a restrictive, controlled existence.  I think the world needs more anarchists and less lemming-like, obedient followers.  Anarchy is empowering.  Rebellion is good for the soul…it gets the adrenaline flowing and puts a twinkle in your eye. It’s necessary for change.

Talk About It – Dee Stone Band

 

The other night, I was going through some old files on my computer and found a PDF I had downloaded in 2011.  It was from the website of a group called No Borders, which is associated with the Louisville Anarchist Federation Federation (LAFF).  I was happy to find the website is still up!  They don’t have any recent posts, so I don’t know what happened to them.

Regardless, there are some very interesting, well-written essays on the site.  Read a few and get in touch with your inner anarchist. 🙂

You can check out the site here.

 

So, How Many People Can You Bring?

When contacting club bookers today, they all respond with the same question: “How many people can you bring?” They want to instantly quantify your value.  It’s not about the music anymore. You can be a sorry band with sorry songs, but if you have a bunch of loyal friends/fans who will pay to see your sorry ass, you’re in! 🙂

A couple of years ago in L.A., I emailed the booker at the Mint and he replied, “Do you have a large following in Los Angeles?” I answered, “My L.A. following is about 10 people.” He wrote back and said, “Thank you for your honesty. Call me when it gets to 20.” Really?! So, with 20 people I am worthy of an opportunity to play for a percentage of the door, but with only 10 people, no? *sigh* At least he responded to my email.

The talent buyer at Blues Alley once said to me, “I don’t care how good you are, if you don’t bring at least 150 people, they won’t have you back.” It’s all about the benjamins, baby.

Working Vocalist vs. Artist

Last year, I decided to stop doing cover gigs and only book shows where I can do my own music. This is a no-brainer to some, but for someone who’s straddled the line between working vocalist and artist for many years, it’s a big step. It required me to change my thought process and focus on who Dee Stone, the artist, really is. It has forced me to learn how to market myself (I’m still learning). It has also limited my performance opportunities.

A working vocalist/musician typically performs popular songs at venues that have a built-in crowd. In the DC area, and many other cities, the venues dictate what kind of music you can play: “We want dance music” or “We want smooth Jazz and R&B.” These gigs will pay you whether there are 10 people or 200 people in the room. To be successful, you fill your set list with “crowd-pleasing songs.” You can make a very good living playing other people’s music but, as a guitarist friend of mine said so succinctly, “You’re a substitute.”

On the other side of the coin is the artist. As an artist, you perform your own music in venues that don’t have built-in crowds. You are expected to have fans who will buy tickets to your show and spend money on food and drinks. These venues want you to guarantee that x-amount of people will come through the door. They don’t care what songs you play or whether you play them well. If the room is full, they’re happy.

As an artist, you dream of performing for a room full of fans. But, without a marketing machine behind you, it can take years to accumulate a substantial number of folks who will consistently support you. These true fans will sustain your career; they will love you even if you don’t have songs on the radio or viral YouTube videos.

Like I said, I’ve straddled the line, meaning I wasn’t 100% on either side, and we all know that you have to put 100% into something to be successful.  The thing is, my dream was not be a successful working vocalist; I was doing it until I could “make it” as an artist.  All the while, I felt like a fraud; a dumbed-down, lame version of myself. Why did I settle? I could say it was for the money and I had three kids to raise. But truth be told, I didn’t believe in me, the artist.

I Let Myself Down

I’ve recorded several CD’s and never toured to promote any of them.

Just typing that sentence makes my heart ache.

But, those days are gone.  This time, I’m getting it right.  Is it too late? I don’t think so. Can I do it? Yes, I believe I can.  In a couple of months, I’ll be releasing a new solo album, and I’m working on a new video for the first single from the album.  (Update:  watch the new video here. ) I am focusing 100% of my energy on my music career – building my audience and booking shows.

But, when a talent buyer asks me, “How many people can you bring?” I don’t know what to say. I have a mailing list of folks who open my emails and seem to care what I’m up to. But, can I guarantee that even 10% of them will show up at a particular venue on the night of my show?

I Suck at Social Media

Everyone says use social media to build and engage your fan base; specifically, Facebook. I created a public page and try to post interesting things, but I’ve gone months, even a year, without posting anything.  Honestly, Facebook gives me the creeps and I’d rather not be there at all.

I’ve used Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr with no success…if success is defined by how many followers you have. To me, all of the social media sites are cold, noisy spaces full of people craving attention.

A few hundred folks “Like” my website, but I don’t know who/where they are. I have no way to communicate with them. I also don’t know who is buying the occasional song on iTunes. They could be local; they could be in Indonesia.

I know there are people out there who want to support me. I know folks have come to my gigs in the past, wanting to see the artist perform the songs they heard on my website, only to find the working vocalist standing there crooning Jazz and Pop standards. I am sorry I disappointed them.

There are folks who’ve seen me in countless nightclubs, restaurants, and bars over the years and said, “Why are you here? You should be doing a concert somewhere.”  I know they would love to come to my as-yet-unbooked shows.

The only thing standing between me and those shows is the grumpy talent buyers questioning my unverifiable following. How do I convince them that I’m worth taking a chance on?  How do I make an agent understand that I’m working hard to promote myself and deliver the numbers? He has to know that, ultimately, we have the same goal: a sold-out show.

I’ll find a way…I’m a resourceful woman! I’m stepping out on faith and putting my whole self behind Dee Stone, the artist. I am a talented and unique performer and I bring immense value to the table. This is what I believe.

If you believe this also — whether you’re a fan or just happened to find me online — please support me in any way you can. Come to my shows, buy my music, sign up for my newsletter, or just send me a note to let me know you’re there. 🙂

Answer My Fucking Email

What’s with people and their lack of communicating?  Folks will spend every free moment on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, but become completely discombobulated when they are faced with responding to a direct email or having an actual conversation with someone.

Today, we carry our phones with us wherever we go and people call, text, and email at random throughout the day.  We can choose to not respond to a call until we are free to talk.  With an email, we have the same choice; it will remain in our inbox waiting for a reply. Just like someone standing at your front door, waiting for you to let them in.

I can understand people are busy.  I can understand you think it’s okay to wait a few days to respond to me. But to not respond at all…ever…to a fellow human who is attempting to communicate with you is soooooo inconsiderate and just plain r.u.d.e.

There have been several times when I’ve discovered a new singer (maybe not really new, but new to me) online and went to their website to have a listen.  With one particular singer, I found her website, listened to one track and said, “Oh, she’s pretty good and her band is hot!”  I ordered her new release  from CD Baby.

I was excited when it came in the mail and thoroughly enjoyed the whole album.  I loved it so much that I took the time to send an email to her to tell her how much I loved the album, her voice, and her music. Did she respond to my email? Hell, no.

Then, there was the local singer I discovered a few years ago and, same thing, I wrote her telling her I loved her voice and her music.  Her response: silence.

What the fuck is up with that?!  I make a heartfelt attempt to communicate with a fellow spirit on the path and said spirit doesn’t have the common human decency to say hello and thank you?!

Now, these are not famous singers with millions of fans emailing them every day.  These are my peers, out there performing and recording in hopes of reaching and connecting with others. Then again, maybe not.

Personally, if someone buys my music and is moved enough to take the time to email me, we are friends for life! That, to me, is a true connection. There is value in that; especially if it comes from another singer or musician.

I don’t get it.  It seems to be more and more common for people to just not respond to emails. Truth be told, there have been times in the past when I’ve been guilty myself.  With some people — you know those people who, just the thought of them leaves you consumed with anger. But, somewhere along the path, I realized that it’s healthier for me to call or email and say what I really feel than to try to ignore them and let resentment fester. I realized that my anger is my issue and they are just being who they are – which they have every right to be.

So now, I always respond to emails. I also include my phone number in case they want to continue the conversation.  If it’s someone I don’t particularly care for or see eye-to-eye with, I will still acknowledge their communication.  Even if it’s only this:

Dear so-and-so,

Thanks for your email.  Fuck you; you’re an idiot 🙂

Have a fabulous day!

Namaste and best regards,

Dee