Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Hannukah & New Year

I hope you remembered Mel Brooks Hanukkah this year. Just finished watching High Anxiety and am full of holiday cheer!!

Birkenau main tracks
It has been a beautiful holiday season thus far. I just returned from a trip to Berlin and Krakow, two cities I never before visited. Unlike the typical holiday vacation, this one was filled with history. Serious, serious history. We spent half a day at the Checkpoint Charlie museum in Berlin, that details the separation of the city and those who tried to escape. In Krakow we toured the medieval old town, explored the archaeology museum, and visited Auschwitz-Birkenau. Dead winter: foggy, snowy, and silent. It was heavy and scary, but I am really glad I went. This season I am feeling extra grateful for my friends and loved ones, my extremely comfortable life, and bountiful opportunities. Hope everyone out there has a great new year!

Friday, August 12, 2011

I'm Talking About The Road

There wasn't much time between returning from the tour and moving to Dublin, so I haven't gotten to present my tips for the road. I'd never been on tour before, so all I knew about being on the road I learned from Tenacious D.

Our tour was really wonderful. We met lovely people, sold all of our CDs and then lots of burned discs, saw the country from coast to coast; it was awesome. And I didn't kill anyone after hours in the car, but believe me there were some times... Anyway, for anyone else wishing to go on tour, here's what I learned:

  • Make a plan, but let it break. You have to have a plan before going on the road. That means mapping out locations, finding the best routes, researching venues, and seeking out affordable lodging. If you wing everything, it will get insanely expensive and confusing. However, no matter how much you plan things will go wrong. This happened many times on our tour, but we were flexible, rolled with the changes, and the problems turned out fine in the end. Some examples: our route through Yosemite was closed due to snow, our place to crash in San Francisco fell through, and more. But we did it. 
  • When in need, use the Internet. As I mentioned before, our place in San Fran fell through two days before we were supposed to be there for three nights. I got on Twitter and posted a bunch of tweets with the hashtag #couchsurfer asking if anyone could help us out. A really sweet group of kids in Oakland gave us their living room and we ended up having a great place to stay. They save our butts. And we also broadcast every gig on all of our social presences to keep fans in the loop. 
  • Work your contacts, even old ones. Sure, we haven't talked since senior year of high school, but you live in Denver and I need a place to stay for a night. Grandpa has a condo in Iowa City? Perry, don't you have an aunt in Boulder? Bingo! Shamelessly work your address book every way you can. Acquaintances, coworkers, family friends, etc. You'd be surprised at how many people are more than willing to help musicians out with a gig or a place to crash. It doesn't have to be  awkward, see it as a way to reconnect with old contacts. Remember, everyone appreciates a few songs played in their living room or a free CD as a thank you. 
  • Screw the rejection. We got rejected a lot, calling venues and coffee shops months in advance and getting turned down or even worse, no response. By the time we hit the road, we only had a few gigs set in stone. Sometimes it got us a little down, but we never thought about giving up. Instead we got creative. We went to lots of open mics, which turned out to be very successful. (At one in Santa Monica we met the insanely talented and kind Mars Wright, who goes by Honey Son. Check him out!). In a funny turn of events, we ended up playing open mics held at two separate venues that previously rejected us only to have them LOVE our sound and ask to book us. Although the gig opportunities were missed, it was very reassuring. And whenever we hit the road again, there is a very good chance those venues will be definite gigs.
  • Every place is a venue. Like I said, we got creative. We spent six days in Telluride, Colorado for their incredible bluegrass festival. It was supposed to be a few days off for us, but in my typical fashion we could not sit still. We planned out which festival acts we wanted to see and wherever there were chunks of free time, we booked last minute gigs. I walked into a hotel lobby and asked if we could play for the guests at the bar and restaurant. They gave us two gigs. I went into an independent bookstore/cafe and asked if they ever had live music, they said no. I told them that they should. Brynn gave them our cards and the next day they called and told us to come down during lunch. We ended up playing there three times that week. One coffee shop said we couldn't play inside, so I asked if we could busk outside at their patio. That was fine with them. And it was SO MUCH FUN. We got to make gigs on our terms and actually made a good deal of money. All our food and beer in Telluride was paid for with tip money. In Santa Monica we used Brynn's parents' home to hold two house shows. Brynn's brother Gordon baked treats for everyone and we set out a box for tips. We invited Honey Son to play with us and he did. String up some Christmas lights in the backyard, set out lawn chairs, and you've got a classy venue! Any place can be a venue, you just give it the same attitude and rock it.
  • Get over the shyness. You have to. Yeah, you're living with three other people for six weeks nonstop. There is no alone time, there is no peace and quiet. Shy about taking massive dumps in public restrooms? Hah. Too bad. Brace yourself for very candid discussions about trips to the bathroom. Get ready to smell a lot of farts. Be prepared to see your travelling companions in their underwear or less. It's the road, baby. It happens.
  • Get (or borrow!) a GPS. If you go cross-country like we did, a sat/nav device is a necessity. Smart phones have Google maps and such, but it drains the phone battery fast, and you don't want to get stranded without a phone. Trade off using each others' phones and charge up the batteries at rest stops. If you manage to secure a GPS always take it with you when you leave the car. Those things will get stolen. Brynn's dad let us borrow his and it turned out to be invaluable, especially when plans changed suddenly.
  • Don't freak out. Shhh, it's ok. Just keep cool. If you've worked hard enough to put a tour together, don't get caught up in making everything go just right. Let yourself enjoy it and have fun! Stop at hokey tourist traps, indulge in a nice meal, see the Grand Canyon. It's important and you'll regret it if you miss out. 

Friday, July 29, 2011

It's shit like this...

For real? WHAT? Ugh.
I've been in Dublin for two weeks now and am really having a fantastic time. Exploring on my own, figuring out the bus system, and enjoying pints of Guinness. I've met a lot of people and naturally they all ask what I'm doing here. When I say that I am starting a Master's program in Sexuality Studies they usually have an uncomfortable laugh, make some joke about fun homework assignments and whatnot. I get it; it is an unusual undertaking, especially in Ireland. But, I'm not some giggling, Sex-&-the-City-watching tart. The world of human sexuality is filled with dangerous misconceptions, inhibitions, prejudices, and flat out lies. A lot of people are still in the Dark Ages and want their children to grow up the same. See that headline?? I'm doing this because of people like that; so-called experts who freely spout their crap and the readers who believe it. And for the 13 year-old gay kids being harassed to their breaking point by cruel bullies. And for anyone who has ever been made to feel like a weirdo when it comes to his or her sexuality. Get over yourself and your fears. Because kids deserve better. Everyone does. Ok, I'm done.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Travel Light Tour: Day 12

We haven't had internet access for a few days, here is a video from San Francisco!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Friday, May 27, 2011

Our Cow Cover Song

The other night we were significantly inspired by a lovely song about cows and some very potent strawberry margaritas. Tequila is a magical substance with healing powers that increase creativity. Brynn's mom knows this, which is why she made about a gallon of her famous strawberry margarita blend. After we drank most of it, we watched this gem:

It was instantly apparent that we needed to create a cover song on the spot. Good thing there was a camera nearby! Here is our interpretation of this timeless classic:

Travel Light Tour: Day 3

Also we were featured on Kulak's Woodshed's weekly video of their best performers! Check us out at about 4:30.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wrapping Up Chi-Town

Peace out, Chicago!

My total days left in Chicago are whittling down to the single digits. Yeesh! This Sunday, Brynn and I will be leaving for Los Angeles and beginning our month long tour adventure. But before I run out, there will be two shows you where you can say bye! This Saturday I have two shows, both in the suburbs and both free. The first is a cute garden festival where Brynn Mawr and I will take the stage in the morning. The second is a raucous event with Machinegun Mojo! If you can't make it, don't worry. I am organizing a going away show during the last week of June that will be free and at Lizard's Liquid Lounge. But until then, here is the other info:

West Chicago, IL
Saturday, May 21, 10am

PJs Tavern
Deerfield, IL
Saturday, May 21, 8pm

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Tour Campain Success! You Guys Rock!

By Eric Bird
Our fundraising campaign for the Travel Light tour ended successfully thanks to your awesomeness! We hit our monetary goal for all that gas and fast food we need to drive across this big ol' country. You all made it possible! As promised, a special thank you goes out to our Best Friend contributors who generously gave $100 or more:

  • Jeremy Haywood
  • Tom Roper
  • Kevin McWethy
  • Myra McWethy
  • Susan Cohen
You guys are the best. We can't wait to send all of our contributors new CDs and stickers! Another shout out goes to Eric Bird who designed our beautiful tour posters. It just really captures the spirit of our sound and this specific tour. We'll see you guys out on the road; we're heading out May 22nd!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Great Serotonin Crash of 2011

I've tried to be pretty open about my struggle with depression and anxiety over the last few years. It certainly hasn't been easy getting past the "I must be crazy" embarrassment that keeps most people from talking about their own issues, but I am so over that now. Mainly because admitting I was unhappy and then going out and getting help changed my life. Remarkably.
This is my brain.                              This is my brain on drugs.
Turns out, when I had to think about it, crippling anxiety had pervaded every corner of my life since childhood. Extreme perfectionism, social awkwardness, constant disappointment in myself, that painful nervous rumbling in my stomach. It held me back so much, making me too nervous to share my music and forcing me to pass up great opportunities. But it all changed dramatically with the help of a therapist and a shrink. It's really incredible how 20mg of this or 100mg of that can cure a chemical deficiency that is ruining your life. Tom Cruise be damned, it has really worked for me. My brain just naturally doesn't make enough happy juices on its own. Within six months I was playing songs I wrote in front of open mic crowds, getting paid for studio cello work, and working with about three different bands. All without having a nervous breakdown and feeling very positive about everything. Oh, I also fell in love and made some new friends, which ain't too shabby either. I don't think it is hyperbolic to say that a combination of therapy and antidepressants has saved my life.

However, it hasn't all been so simple. My insurance didn't cover most of the therapy nor the medicine I was prescribed that had no generic, and there have been a few annoying side effects. So a couple weeks ago my doc suggested I try a similar, but new and cheaper medicine. Which brings us to the Great Serotonin Crash of 2011. Psych drugs are complex in that you can't just start and stop them, any change requires weeks of tapering doses and some withdrawal. I've been a freaking wreck the last few weeks. Withdrawn, nervous, downright bitchy. But I think I'm starting to get over the hump. It's all made me even more appreciative of how far I've come and the resources and people that got me here. I am doing what I want now and really happy about it, no longer consumed with fear and regret. I think it goes without saying -- but this is the internet and people will freak out about anything -- that this is just my own personal experience. I don't think that drugs are a cure-all, and I certainly don't think they are right for everyone. I simply encourage people to open up and talk about this stuff so it is not so taboo and scary.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sweet Baby Mando

Made for me by my dear friend Mike Gryka
Yeah, dude! I bought a mandolin, no joke. I awoke one morning with a musical wanderlust gnawing at my brain. Following the usual morning routine, I popped an allergy pill and a multivitamin and set in to dig through overnight emails. One thing led to another, and I began feverishly reading my Facebook news feed. Lo, what's this? A friend is selling their barely-used mandolin with built-in pickup and hard case for a reasonable price? Hmmm.... Done. It might've been an impulse buy, but it is so cute! I so far have only played giant, somber instruments: cello, bass, bass steel drums. This is by far the happiest, sweetest sounding instrument I have ever strummed. And it's tiny! Going on the bus? No problem. Flying home to Baltimore? Big whoop. This baby goes everywhere! The best part: I named him Mando Calrissian. Because I am a Star Wars nerd. And a general all-around-nerd.

Friday, March 4, 2011


I am very proud to announce that Machinegun Mojo's new album Souvenirs from the Other Side of Here will be released this Saturday, March 5th. To celebrate, we are throwing a huge party at the Elbo Room and playing a massive set of fun tunes. It will be ragin' good times.  Here are the deets:

Saturday, March 5th 2011
Elbo Room
2871 N Lincoln Ave
Chicago, IL
We play at 11pm!
$10 cover, $7 CDs

Check out a little behind the scenes video of the guys in the studio.

Hope to see you there!!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Departure from The Ordinary Film

Do you have Netflix? Put this in your queue now. Um, right now. I watched it and it was wonderful.

Of course I was drawn in by the awesome poster of a dude playing a cello under some sweet mountains. But it turned out to be a masterpiece. It is partly about the fragility of life and traditions and the other part is straight cello porn. Shot beautifully with sweeping Japanese landscapes and poignant closeups, every moment was stunning. Especially the detailed look into old Japanese funeral customs, which are tedious yet also lovely. Of course the music is great, and there are even some quirky scenes that will make you laugh. Yeah, it's in Japanese; shut up and read the words.

And then the end... which will make you sob like a baby. I'm not much of a movie crier, and it made me bawl. Ok, without further ado, here is a clip of said cello porn:

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Candy Factory

Went to the Albanese Candy Factory today. The amount of sugars in my body right now is probably unmeasurable. Tried sitting down to play some guitar but could not focus. Could not play at appropriate tempo.

Starting to feel uncomfortable. The crash is imminent. BUT IT WAS AWESOME.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Monday, February 7, 2011

Nope, not this time

Alright, so we didn't make it to SXSW this year, but we had some pretty steep competition at Reggie's.

It's a bit of a bummer, but I think it was one of our most entertaining live shows ever. The entire crowd was enthusiastic and I had the most fun. Smiled so much my face was aching. And the other bands that played that night were good. It was a pretty big honor just to be in the same boat as them. Maybe next year?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Live from the Gold Coast

Oh, pardon. I did not see you there over my venti latte. I'm a Gold Coast lady now, so you see, I am important. My days consist of long phone calls at Starbucks, spa mani/pedis, getting needlessly pissy at waiters, and quick stops at Bloomingdale's on the way home.

I moved into my boyfriend's condo last week, officially becoming the kept woman I always knew I could be. Closet space galore? You bet. Windows that face something other than adjacent brick walls? Uh huh. No strange smells from past water damage? I'm living the dream.

And you can live it too! For five easy payments of $39.99, I will show you how to win the man (and apartment) of your dreams! Some of my patented and intensive courses include: Mastering The Long & Difficult Starbucks Drink Order, Closing The Disturbing Age Gap, I'm Totally Cool: How To Trick A Man Into Letting You Move Into His Really Nice Place, and The Foreign Traveler: Live In A Guy's Place Without Having To Live With Him (Because He's In Ireland). Join me. Don't waste another day.

*Please make all checks payable to Katelyn Cohen. Also, I may have been drunk when writing this and thought it was hilarious at the time, but will realize later that I am not funny. 

SXSW 4 me, plz

Gotta a big ol' gig tomorrow night at Reggie's Rock Club in Chicago. The Machinegun Mojo boys and I will be duking it out against other Chicago bands for a slot at SXSW this March. We are so excited for the opportunity and have been practicing up a storm. Literally. We caused the snow that fell today. BAM, you're welcome! In all seriousness, we are pumped to play and looking forward to winning and road tripping it down to Austin, Texas. We play early and only for a half hour, so swing on by if you can and then go party.

Reggie's Rock Club
2109 S State St
8:00pm, $8 cover

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A New Year

Happy New Year to everyone. 2011 promises to be quite a winner, and I am so excited about it. Not really fond of resolutions, but there are definitely things I want to do better this year when it comes to my music and corresponding online presences. For instance, getting my mailing list up and running once and for all. The messages will be periodic updates whenever I have an important show or release new music. If you haven't already, please sign up!

In other news: I am officially moving to Dublin, Ireland for a year. Yup. I got into a terrific MA program in Sexuality Studies at Dublin City University. Can't wait to spread the dirty rapz through all of academia. Best. Thesis. Ever. But seriously, I hope to do counseling in the future for the LGBT community and couples in addition to my music.
So, this means lots of change coming up very, very soon. And who knows what my year abroad will be like. I expect lots of travel, homework, new friends, and new places to share my music. But, I am trying very hard not to build up too many expectations. Exciting!

Monday, January 3, 2011

A shout out from Khia herself!

Unreal! Khia, whose song "My Neck, My Back" I cover regularly, found my video on YouTube and blogged it! This is so cool and such a great surprise. Check out her post here.

Ooh, this is exciting! Khia has blogged a few other videos of people covering her songs, and I think it is so neat of her to recognize her fans. Work!