Living Room Show

It’s been a long time coming.  Six years, four years,  two years, one year, maybe, depending on the measure you use.

I’ll back up the truck for those who may be new to my blog.

Above are photos of my living room show from last Friday with a singer named Kyle Vincent.  Kyle is an independent musician who has a storied history in the business, despite the fact that you probably haven’t heard of him.  He has toured with the likes of Rick Springfield, Richard Marx, Night Ranger, Blessid Union of Souls, even Barry Manilow.  He’s got stories that include Joe Satriani, Ryan Seacrest and Garry Marshall.  And he lives just about two hours north of where I do, right here in New England.

Rather than rewrite my story and how it weaves in with Kyle, let me share a few links:

When I First Saw Kyle (1985):

How I Caught Back Up With Him:  (1997):

First Time I Met Him (1997):

Catching Up Again (2004):

Kyle Asks Me To Design His Website (2005):

After All of That, Friends (2006):

So there’s your six years.  It’s been six years since I last saw Kyle perform, at that small club in Hamden, CT in 2006.

It’s been four years since I’ve seen him at all.  We realized at some point in our back and forth trying to redesign his website, or maybe we were working on one of the CDs that I helped him design (I did four of them for him:  Don’t You Know, Gathering Dust, Where You Are, and C Sides, not to mention a little help on his last, Best Of…So Far and the artwork for his Live DVD….not that you asked….but I am kinda proud of them) that he lives two hours from here, which means we could each drive just one hour and have an in person work session.  Which we did several times in 2008.  That’s the last time I saw him, four years ago.

Two years ago we talked about redesigning his website for the third time since I started work on it.  I had totally redone it in 2005 when I took it over, and then again in 2009 when we did the Where You Are CD.  By 2010 the site was already feeling out of date, and we started looking at options for a new look.  I put something together that I loved, with Flash and all sorts of bells and whistles. But see, Kyle’s a perfectionist and I get frustrated easily.  It’s a bad combination.  So after him not liking it as much as I did, we stopped working on it for a while.

Last year, we did the same thing.  I again came up with several options that I felt would really fit his needs.  He liked it enough to let me fill in the site nearly completely before he realized that he was going to have to live with this.  And he couldn’t.  So again, we stopped.

Finally, after nearly a year of not only not working on the site, but barely communicating with each other, we reconnected via email last summer and tried again.  I put together not one, not two but three full and complete websites that ended up getting nixed.  But then finally Kyle suggested one last try.  And that one last try ended up being the keeper.

In return for the six, four, two or one years of back and forth, Kyle suggested another living room show in my hometown.  This time I decided to go for it in my own home.  I invited a bunch of girlfriends and called it our Girls Night In Living Room Show.

It was a blast.  Kyle was charming, he was self deprecating, he was just enough sexy.   And somehow, it was kind of an amazing event watching someone from My Former Life find a new home in My Current Life.  With My Current Friends in My Current Home.  They all loved him, and now they kind of get a little bit why I have somehow kept a connection with this guy for over 20 years.

The best part?  Watching my twelve year old daughter listen and connect with his music.  When he sang the words, “I’m somebody….just not who you wish I were…and that’s OK,” I could see the flash of recognition in her eyes.  You know the one.  The one that happens when you can pull a song in and relate it to your own life.  And when he sang “It’s only you who believes in….yourself,” my own tears fell, watching her, thinking of her and her struggles and hoping she too “will dance again.”  I remember being twelve.  I remember that feeling of music saving me, pulling me out of the awfulness that was my every day life.  I don’t know if Kyle’s music will be that for her, but it was wonderful to share it with her, regardless.

Somehow, taking something that I am excited and passionate about and sharing it with my friends, with my daughter, and seeing them finally get it was so incredibly special.  And amazing.  Also, inspiring.

And also?  Knowing that with those special people in your life, those who you are connected with, who are meant to be a part of your journey somehow….knowing that they will always be there, even if there are six, four, two, one year spans in between their place there?  That part?

That was just…everything.


11 Years Later

It’s hard to believe it has been 11 years since that Tuesday morning, so much like this one, crisp and clear here in the Northeast.  I now live far closer to the place where that tragedy occurred than I could ever imagine that day.

One of the musicians I have followed for years, Kyle Vincent, wrote a stunning tribute that day as the events unfolded.   It is poignant and heartbreaking all at the same time, the way he highlights the path we could have chosen if we’d all pulled together in the aftermath of that day.  Instead, eleven years later, our country is more divided than I could have ever imagined.

I also wrote about that day, extensively, here, reliving the day as it unfolded in my world.  Here is my own perspective on that day, in the posts below:

My thoughts and prayers go out today to all whose lives were altered so irrevocably that day.  That awful, awful day.


I lost my job yesterday.

It’s not a huge job, mind you.  I’ve been working on and off at our local children’s art studio for five years.  Jill and I started working together after she allowed me to host a Kyle Vincent concert at her studio in late 2006.  I didn’t know her then; a friend I’d met at my son’s preschool did, though, and when I wondered if all of my girlfriends would fit into my small roomed house for such a “living room show”, she suggested Jill’s studio close by.  By the end of the event Jill was talking to Kyle about business, and he mentioned that I did his website and graphic design.  A few weeks later, she approved my mock up for her site, and we’ve been working together ever since.

Jill put me to work doing anything my skill set allowed.  First the website, then her accounting and some clerical work, and finally, some teaching of the classes she offered to the children of our town.  It was extremely part time, but perfect for my busy life that didn’t allow me to work outside of my childrens’ school hours and sometimes required me to be available even then to meet all of their needs.  It was my first foray outside of my home since I’d moved to Connecticut, and it was just enough to make me feel like I wasn’t allowing my skills to evaporate while tending to my children’s lives so fully.

Working for Jill introduced me to other business owners in town too, and before long I had a small roster of website design clients.  With Jill’s studio being popular and well known in town, all I had to do was drop her name and jobs came my way with very little effort.  It wasn’t a lot of money, but it was enough to feel like I was doing something meaningful in my off hours.

Unfortunately, since I did Jill’s books for her, I could see that the economic crash of 2008 took a huge toll on Jill’s business.  Children’s art classes were a pricey luxury that most parents were easily able to slash out of their budgets.  Jill responded as any shrewd business person would by cutting her own costs.  One by one I saw most of the seasoned teachers leave.  Jill taught everything she could herself, and when she couldn’t, she hired cheaper college and high school students to fill in.

And for a while, that was enough to stay afloat.  I marveled at how her summer camps and her birthday party businesses kept her in the black.  She bought a kiln and added paint your own pottery aspect to her studio, which brought income in during the long stretches between semesters when the bank account often grew thin.  But she also quietly put the property up for sale, waiting to see if anyone would be interested in buying the business.

No one was.  After two years on the market and over $100,000 in reductions of the price, she made the hard decision to close the studio.  I was unprepared, when I went in for my usual Thursday perusal of receipts and tasks that this would be the last time I would be asked to come in.  I knew it was coming, of course, but didn’t realize it was happening now instead of later.  This was it.  Five years and what seems like a lifetime of growth and change later, Jill and I are parting ways.

I’ve always called my job a “little job”.  But today, in its absence, it feels much bigger than it ever was.  And I will miss it.  Very much.

Working Girl

“Would you like to come work for me?”  Jill asked the question the day after Kyle’s “living room” show in her art studio.

It had been a strange turn of events.  Kyle hosted all of these small, intimate shows in people’s homes, and I’d wanted to do one since we’d moved to CT; Kyle was only two hours away and so it would be cheap to hire him.  But unfortunately for me, my home was not suited to this type of event at all; in order to make it any sort of cost effective, I needed people to come, at least twenty; no room in my house could hold that many people.

My friend Peggy, whose daughter was in Michael’s special needs preschool, had suggested the local art studio.  I didn’t know the owner well at all, but she did, and since kids were in school during the day the space would probably be free.  Since most of the women I wanted to invite were stay at home mothers whose kids would be in school (thus allowing them the flexibility to attend a rock concert of sorts during the daytime), the timing seemed ideal.  She talked to Jill and hooked the whole thing up.

The event had gone seamlessly; a few of my Rick Springfield fan friends locally filled in the crowd along with some of my new friends that I’d meet through Melinda’s and Michael’s schools.  Kyle was his usual charming self, turning it on hard for these thirtysomething mothers who found the idea of a rock star coming to their tiny little town intriguing.  Peggy and I had cooked a buffet of food for the friends to enjoy after the show, and most of them purchased Kyle’s music to take home with them.  All in all, a win.

Jill had been the most surprising reaction.  Not only had she loved Kyle’s music, but she grilled him about how he knew Peggy and I, and before long he was singing my praises to her as a hard working, capable web designer who took on all sorts of tasks and just figured them out along the way.  Jill took me aside and mentioned that she was looking for just such a “girl friday”, and to give her a call the next day.

I’d been prepared by visiting her website.  I felt a little guilty doing exactly what my replacement at must have done; cataloging the shortcomings and missteps there and creating a list of what I could do differently and better.  We talked for a bit on the phone before she asked her question.

“I had been hoping you’d ask me,” I answered.  With Michael in full day kindergarten and Melinda in second grade, and Z off in high school, my days were flexible enough to allow me a few days a week of employment.  This still would leave me with plenty of time to volunteer at the schools, which I did at least five to ten hours a week, in addition to teaching Melinda’s religious education classes at church.  I’d been hoping to find something during the kids’ school hours, and this would fit the bill perfectly.

“Come in tomorrow and we’ll get started,” Jill offered.  “See you at ten?”

“Sounds great,” I answered.  It might not be glamourous, or fancy, but it was real.  I was excited about real.

An Evening Out

“I’m ready for a drink, are you?” Kyle Vincent asked me as we entered the restaurant together.

I had known Kyle for nearly ten years now, and this was not the first meal we had shared together.  It would, however, be the first meal we’d ever had alone together.

Kyle was in our area for a spate of local promotion.  He’d been featured on a local radio station this afternoon, at Quinnipiac University.  My friend Peggy and I had met him there in time to walk him into the studio, as if we were his “handlers”.  I watched as he handled the interview with the ease of a performer who had done this thousands of times before.  I felt my heart skip a beat as he performed an acoustic song live on the air; God, I missed this stuff.  I loved music, I loved the creation of it, I loved being in the presence of a performer that was good at his craft and confident in his delivery.  I was grateful that my work on Kyle’s website and CDs was giving me a place to have an outlet for this part of who I was.

R, of course, was out of town.  He was entirely unhappy about Kyle’s local visit, which included a show tonight at a local club and a show I’d arranged the following day with my friend Peggy and about thirty of our local girlfriends.  He still thought that my infatuation with this “bubbling under” singer was the source of our early marriage woes; I countered that any problems that we had were in his and my responses to any number of situations in our lives, and couldn’t be laid at any third party’s feet.   I didn’t care for the nasty way he spoke about Kyle, and so now I usually kept any of my work or time spent on his behalf to myself.

Kyle had gone to his hotel after the radio station interview, offering to pick me up for the gig later, since my house was on the way.  It felt strangely date like to sit in his passenger seat, laughing and talking as easily as we always had.  It was so nice, I thought, to spend time with someone I admired and respected, and who seemed to have the same opinion as me.  The silences I was used to when R and I were on the way to a work party didn’t exist here, and I found myself surprised when we pulled into the parking lot of the club in what seemed like an impossibly short amount of time.

At the club I again assumed my favorite role of “girl friday”, videotaping the performance for use on the website, getting “the Talent” water and talking to the club manager.  I loved the behind the scenes role, watching the audience gather and be drawn in by this artist that none of them were familiar with.  By the end of his set they all loved him, as always seemed to happen with his shows.  I stood behind a small table selling CDs while he charmed the ladies and talked sports with the men.  I glanced at my watch as we left the club, thinking of Z at home with my younger kids, hoping everything was ok.  “Can I buy you dinner?” Kyle asked with the contented tone of someone who knows they have completed a job well.

And so we found ourselves at a local Italian restaurant close to my home, in a dimly lit bar, drinking red wine and slowly savoring a pizza while we traded stories.  I told him about my single parent hood, and he told me of his father’s rages and early death.  It was the kind of evening with a man that I would have dreamt about in my single days, with compliments and blushing and red cheeks, except there was no romance at all about it.  Just two adults who admired and respected each other enjoying each other’s company.  I had never heard of such a thing, a true friendship between a man and a woman; I’d always assumed “When Harry Met Sally” was right on the money.

“We should really do that again sometime.  I really enjoyed talking and drinking and eating pizza with you,” Kyle said as he wrapped me in a bear hug in my driveway.  I stood silent for a moment, a lifetime of insecurity and disbelief automatically discounting his words.  “Did you have a good time,” he said, pulling away, sensing my tension.

“I did,” I said quietly, disbelievingly.  It had been a very, very long time since a man who was not my husband had been so nice to me.  It was disconcerting, confusing.  There was no romance or anything sinister about it.  It was just…nice.   “Let’s do it again soon.”

“Deal,” said the handsome man next to me, as he leaned over and opened my door.


Another Website Gig

“Would you be interested in working on my website?” Kyle Vincent asked over the phone.

When I’d gone to see Kyle at my friend Erin’s house last spring, he’d been happy to see me of course; it had been years since we’d seen each other, and we’d always hit it off, from the first time I’d seen him before his live show in Detroit.  We had an easy, joking banter between the two of us that was instantly familiar and fun.

But what had sparked the most conversation between us wasn’t my two cross country moves or my new family.  No, what had intrigued my friend still struggling to achieve that wide name recognition in the music business the most was my job working for Rick Springfield.  What had I done for him, how had it all worked, was Rick still the same guy Kyle remembered touring in the 80s with?   I’d seen him two more times live that spring, but the conversations weren’t over; Kyle punched his cell phone number into my cell phone one chilly afternoon in Chicago.  I had to laugh, recalling a phone conversation we’d had seven years prior when it had felt as if he’d gone out of his way not to give me his contact information; email had been enough.  But not so now.

By the fall, as my Rick Springfield duties became less and less, Kyle asked me if I would help him layout his next CD’s artwork.  I had never done such a thing before, but I knew how to work with print media; the university had asked me to teach a class in it for their art department. So I agreed to do it, much like I’d said I could work on Rick Springfield’s website all those years ago, even though I knew very little about web design.  And literally the day before I left Ohio, I shipped off a CD titled “FINAL DON’T YOU KNOW ARTWORK – KYLE VINCENT” to a company out west that would turn my digital files into a CD booklet.

It had been a heady experience.  Kyle was a perfectionist, so there were may failed attempts at getting the artwork just the way he liked.  I would grow frustrated with phone calls where he described to me a certain way of laying out lyrics over his beautiful images of fields and grass, only to lay them out per his instructions and have him hate the result.  But when I struck gold and got it right; it was the best feeling in the world.   I loved working in the music business; I loved that I still had something to offer someone in that arena.

Still, things were crazy at home these days.  While Michael was out of the house for mornings a week, and Melinda as well, it wasn’t a lot of time.  I still did have some work with the Rick Springfield camp, sending out information to fans, managing the street team and navigating the minefields of Rick’s new team.  Z still had plenty to do after school and R was travelling a lot.  Was it a good idea to offer an open ended, unpaid commitment to Kyle?  I needed to start looking for another job like I’d had in Ohio; I could fit classes into the time when my kids were in school, perhaps.  Melinda would start kindergarten in the fall; it was definitely time to start figuring out where I fit in out here in the wilds of Connecticut.

“I’d love to,” I found myself saying, despite all of the nagging doubts in my head.  I missed the work, and wanted to keep my skills up.  There was also a certain element of wanting to show Rick and his people that perhaps they had made a mistake.  After all, if all of the kind emails Rick kept sending me were true, I had to still be standing and able to do the job if they ever wanted me to, right?

It is true what they say.  There is indeed a sucker born every minute.

Seeing KV Again

I parked my car in front of my friend Erin’s little bungalow and sat there for a minute.  I looked up at the sweet little home she’d bought for herself last year, and saw the lights twinkling inside.  I had been on the road for an hour, since she lived south of me in the suburbs beyond the state line in Kentucky; why was I hesitating now?

Erin had invited me over for a “Living Room Show” with Kyle Vincent.  I’d followed him for ages, and became friendly with him  seven years ago when we finally met before a show.  He’d been bubbling under the surface of the music business ever since, with sporadic touring to showcase his CD releases.  I’d seen him last in 2001, when I’d dragged Erin with me to his appearance at our local Borders.  She’d become hooked, and had been a fan ever since.

But lately Kyle had been doing something really different to promote his records:  instead of waiting to be booked in clubs or other appearances, he instead allowed fans to book him directly into their homes for small, intimate shows.  I had to admit it was kind of genius.  He had a very dedicated and loyal fan base, and so now he was touring the country playing living rooms filled with people much more likely to walk away fans than if he was an opener for some other act at a club somewhere.

And so Erin had jumped at the chance to see him again, in the comfort of her own home, with her closest friends there to be part of the experience. She’d recently gotten an upright blond piano at Goodwill, and paid more to have it tuned for the performance than she had to purchase it.  Several of our close mutual friends were coming, and we were all going to have a slumber party after the show was over.  It all was perfectly arranged and should be a great time.

Which is why I couldn’t explain at all why I felt glued to the car seat.  Why wasn’t I more excited at the prospect of seeing Kyle again?  We had been friends over email for seven years now, though in the last few since I’d been working for Rick we hadn’t talked all that much.  I supposed I felt a little guilty, wondering if he felt as if I’d gotten too busy with the big rock star to maintain a friendship with him.  Of course there was also the raging crush I’d always had on him, that didn’t make sense since I was married and now had three children.  Would it all be silly and awkward or friendly and easy?  I just wasn’t sure.

Finally, I eased myself out of the minivan and walked up the stairs to her front door.  As I knocked, I looked around in time to see him arrive:  Kyle and a young girl in a small rental car pulling up to the curb.  He unfolded himself from the front seat and stood there for a moment, eyes adjusting to the dim light of evening, roaming up and down the scene.  His gaze landed on me, and his eyes opened wide with recognition and what appeared to be enthusiasm.  I sighed in relief and let my cheeks grow red as he took the stairs two at a time to greet me.

“Long time no see Mrs. Springfield,” he joked, gathering me into a hug.  “You and I have to talk.”

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