Cars, Commitment, and Summer Goals

They weren’t lying when Missing Persons sang, “No Body Walks in LA”. I often would think of this song and laugh when I would come here to visit from New York. I’ve never been able to take musical hits from the 80’s (like this one) too seriously but I think that is what makes it so enjoyable. This song speaks the truth though. My neighborhood is ‘walker friendly’ and even still, the roads are not like New York. Instead of busy narrow streets, they are large highways with double lanes and drivers who most often are not expecting pedestrians which makes it all the more dangerous to walk even if you wanted to.

So far in the month’s time that I have been here, I’ve been lucky enough to have wheels of my own. I’ve nicknamed this ‘72 Buick Custom Skylark ‘Sadie’. She has been a family car since ‘72.

This hot rod has a personality all of her own - she gets about 10 miles to the gallon and every time I fill her up with gas, I have to add a bottle of led substitute because when she was made, that was the standard.We have come along way! I joke about getting a Prius to off-set the fuel emissions created by driving her but I really would rather just keep her in healthy working condition.

The first person to read this post and have the know how to upgrade my V8 engine to some sort of gasoline fuel-efficient alternative, I will fully consider it. How cool would that be - a hot rod running on recycled energy? Let’s do it!

Fortunately, I haven’t needed to drive all that much since I have been here, working mostly from home. I was blessed to come across some incredible musician’s so far and have ventured up to Granada Hills in the San Fernando Valley and down to Hermosa Beach to jam with them.

When I get back from NYC mid-June I’m looking forward to exploring this further and start digging deep into some co-writing sessions. I also found a Monday Night Gospel singing group that I want to check out.

Last week was the best yet of my new journey here in Los Angeles.

I was booked for a two hour set at the Co-working campus Industrious - Playa District and performed solo for a Restorative Yoga class at Love Yoga. Both events were fairly new experiences for me. Of course performing has elements to it that are new each time like the crowd and venue but these were both very unique in their own ways.

Industrious - Playa District is a campus full of start-ups and companies which make up a campus of 4000 people in total. The event was scheduled to be outside and kick-off Memorial Day Weekend with Southern BBQ and S’more Cookie Deserts. I had the pleasure of bringing Ben Zurier along with me to play the cahone. As soon as we arrived at the venue, out of nowhere the sky turned dark and it started to downpour rain! Luckily we had a little bit of time to re-strategize and move the event inside the main lobby space before it started. As soon as we finished drying off the gear and setting it up, the lobby became packed with hungry co-workers. We opened the set with my song ‘On The Fence’ and slowly moved into a laid back groove playing ‘Desert Skies’ to get the crowd swaying along with us.

The second part of the event we played upbeat covers like ‘Something to Talk About’ by Bonnie Raitt and ‘Bobbie McGee’ by Janis Joplin. It has been fun for me to take a little time to focus on learning cover songs. Learning covers is how I taught myself to play guitar and now I am much more confident in my voice and my performing abilities, it has become easier to learn the songs and way more fun to play them! Learning a cover song is like acting, you have to memorize the lyrics and the technical bits of the song and then put your own spin on it to make it convincing. I enjoy imagining that I am embodying the essence of each songwriter I am covering.

Love Yoga is a beautiful tranquil space in Venice full of dedicated teachers and open hearted students. It was an honor to share my gift of sound healing with such an honest group of beings and a delight to share my songs in a unique dreamscape sort of way using loops and delay pedals.  Thank you to Erin Ward for inviting me to collaborate with you and the Goddesses Michelle and Susan Rae offering adjustments and aromatherapy. During this class, I was reminded of the commitment we make to each other in collaboration and how powerful that can be when we are fully present.

Speaking of Commitment…

I started two important practices of my own this month which I have done every morning since I signed up - Tony’s Acoustic Challenge and The Life Force Academy Kundalini Yoga. In the past six months I struggled with knowing what things I should be committed to and with practicing music daily. I was fairly consistently doing yoga in the mornings but my energy levels were wavering which caused me to feel down and ultimately neglect the things I knew were good for myself. Kundalini Yoga and journaling every morning is helping me to keep a clear head while practicing everyday afterwards has been significantly helpful in learning new guitar techniques. I’ve practiced at least 18 hours each week for the past few weeks and it feels fabulous. I started recording what I practice each day in a journal to keep track of what I’m working on.

My next two commitments to take on are to become more regular with working out (cardio), booking and songwriting. My goal by the end of August is to be writing three new songs a week. This may sound like a lot to you but songwriting comes very easily to me and it is a practice like anything else - the more you practice, the better you get, especially when real inspiration strikes!

I want to start booking three weekly gigs along with upcoming fall and 2020 tour dates so by August I have some big shows ready to announce! I’ve started to lightly work on this by doing some initial research but it all takes a great deal of time and I am just a one man show after-all.

I added a house show inquiry form to my website here so that you can book me or my band for gigs or house shows while I’m working to fill up my calendar.

Hollar atcha girl!

Thank you guys for all of your love and support and for keeping me on track with my goals and dreams!

Here’s what’s coming up in June!

Tomorrow I will be back to NYC to get back on the road with The Gary Douglas Band. We will be hitting up The Stone Pony in New Jersey to open for The Mavericks!  This classic venue helped to launch the careers of Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi and Southside Johnny. Then we fly down to Pensacola, FL for a show with Paul Thorn.

I have a super slick stop-motion music video shot and edited by my friend Eric Swizz for my song ‘Afterglow’ that I’m almost ready to release. I’ve waited two years to put this baby out and I can’t wait to share it with you very soon!

I’m excited to be working with the talented female director Persia Beheshti on a new music video at the end of next month for ‘On The Fence’! She is inspired by surrealism and fantasy embedded in everyday life which you know is right up my alley.

August 2nd my first ever full length album ‘Afterglow’ drops!!!

Sign up on my mailing list here to hear it first and stay tuned for more announcements.

Courtney McKenna