it’s here! it’s here!

Guess what appeared on my doorstep today? YES! The new album has arrived!! I could not be more thrilled. It will be released in 3 weeks, and I am so excited to have already been honored with attention from CMT Edge, KUTX, and American Songwriter.

The next few weeks will be busy, busy, busy. Next week, we will be doing a live session in the KUTX studios with host Jay Trachtenberg. I am so happy to be returning to this great station for an on-air appearance, and I am extra happy that my incredible band will be joining me. Brian Standefer, Mail Man Dave, Glenn Fukunaga, and yours truly – it is gonna be so good.

The four of us will reconvene in Houston for our first CD release show at the Mucky Duck, and then it’s north to Dallas (well, Richardson) for the Wildflower! Festival. This festival is always super fun, with a REALLY diverse range of acts. For example, Loverboy will be there. Joan Jett. Michael Martin Murphey. Kool and the Gang. Hal Ketchum. Foghat. Jack Ingram. Cheap Trick. The Wallflowers. And me. With my new CD.

6 Months at a Glance

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I know it has been a long time since I have posted news, but a lot really has happened since we last sat down for a chat. Performing at the ACL Moody Theater downtown opening for legendary songwriter Jerry Jeff Walker (a true songwriting hero of mine) was a total thrill. Then I was off to Nashville to attend the Americana conference and had the greatest time performing at the Bluebird Cafe with my friends Noelle Hampton, Andre Moran, Amy Speace, and Charlie Faye.

October took the boys and me to Arkansas to play at the Denny West / Wildwood Festival, and I scored some serious bargains at the thrift shops in Little Rock. I shared the stage swapping songs back in Texas with the always entertaining Butch Hancock, and then I hit the studio to record with my friend (and cellist extraordinaire) Brian Standefer at his gorgeous studio in Buda, TX. We worked together like peanut butter and chocolate (unless you are allergic to nuts or cocoa – I just mean to say it was a match meant to be)!

We got twelve songs recorded, and I have been excited about the album ever since. Straight out of the studio, I left the flooded – yet still suffering from drought – hills of central Texas and ventured back north to Canada for another super-fun (but snowy as heck) tour with my pal Doug Cox through November. Why do I always go to Canada in November?

imageI guess it was the autumn of heroes, as I  met and shared the stage with the great poet Nikki Giovanni when I got back to the States. What a hilarious, irreverent, amazing woman she is! I was thrilled to hang out with her backstage, joking around and snapping selfies with Ms. Giovanni!

December and January was a lot of good quality family time and gigs around Texas – and the birth of a new side project Short People: Michael Fracasso, Kacy Crowley, Charlie Faye, and me. I gotta tell you, this band is FUN, and we have been having a blast writing together and rehearsing. It may be a while for us to get gigging, since we all have a lot going on, but I promise to let you know when we launch onto a stage.

imageFebruary and March…hmm. ah – more shows, including with my friend Sam Baker, the International Folk Alliance conference in Kansas City where I got to show off my new band and new sound to my folk family across North America, and then back to Austin for SXSW madness. I volunteered for one of my favorite stations in the universe (KUT/KUTX), flitted back to Nashville for a week of writing and showcasing at Tin Pan South, came back to Texas to start taking a screenwriting workshop, get my braces off, and buy a bunch more stones for my new jewelry business, and that pretty much brings us current!

What’s new with you?

love is here…love is real

Wow, I just spent a good chunk of time in Buda, Texas with my friend Brian Standefer who is co-producing my new album with me. It was a good chunk of time and a chunk of GOOD TIME. Working with Brian is so easy for me – we fed off each other’s ideas so quickly and naturally, and it was really energizing to toss ideas around and be able to trust the other person totally understood what needed to happen next.

The title of this update comes from one of the songs we recorded – I know, it doesn’t sound like what you probably think of as a typical BettySoo lyric, but there it is. And this process, working with such great musicians who really rallied to make what is going to be a great record reinvigorated my belief that “love is here, love is coming, love is gonna stay with you even when you’re running…love is real.

I hope to release the album by this coming summer, but that does seem so soon…so much to do before then. Wish me luck.

City of Angels

I have always had mixed feelings about Los Angeles. The weather is perfect. The air quality is…not trustworthy. The Pacific is to die for. The traffic is also murderous. Fruit grows everywhere. The Korean food is amazing. Amazing. So good. And the people…?

The people are pretty great, too. I had such a blast this July sharing a night with friends: one of my closest friends, Charlie Faye, performed solo – along with her Califone spinning a vinyl copy of her rhythm tracks from her newest album You Were Fine, You Weren’t Even Lonely, and then a newer friend of mine, Steve Postell, played a set of his songs with local friends of his. I got to do one of my favorite things ever – learn someone else’s songs and sing some harmony. It was very sweet of Steve to trust me not to wreck his set, and I think it sounded great. I did the late night honors, closing out the night with Steve on guitar…and a surprise guest joining in as well.

A couple friends I haven’t seen in a while surprised me completely by popping in for the night – and one of them joined me on stage. Yes, that is Laurence Juber hiding in the background of that photo. He and Hope sweetly made the trek over to that tiny corner of the Cinema Bar, and I was so overjoyed to see their very missed faces. It was really, really amazing to hear him play (I twisted his arm to play a few instrumentals) again, and I was having such a blast when he and Steve took turns taking incredible solos on my songs.

Oh, and the photo? It’s taken by my high school and college friend Edith Hwang, who has moved from Texas to L.A. to learn more about film and photography. She’s always had a knack and an eye, but she’s honing her skills among the best now (Want to know a secret about Edith? She played a ripping Strat in college, and all of us called her BluesMama).

I realize this post probably sounds like a name-dropping bazaar, but really, what I want to say is just how thankful I am for friends who take the time and energy to make me feel loved, even when I am 1400 miles from home.

Chillin’ with Dylan

Okay, not actually with Dylan, in person…but this winter, I was very honored to be part of a month-long production of Long Time Gone, Words and Music by Bob Dylan in the great town of New Haven, Conn. I was joined onstage by Guy Davis, the respected blues musician from New York and Peter Landecker, the producer and creator of the show.

The best way to describe the show is that it is (in Peter’s words) a theatrical biography of Dylan in two acts. Two-thirds of the show is his music, performed mostly by Guy Davis and myself, and the remaining third was in the form of monologues and interviews, performed by Landecker. We had an incredible time, with many unforgettable and special nights, surrounded by a truly great community in New Haven. I feel like I have a new family and a little like I have a new hometown.

Dylan has long been a hero of mine (duh), but it was such a luxury to be immersed in his material night after night, discovering new metaphors and allusions in songs that were already so familiar. For example, “Idiot Wind” has always been a powerful song to me, but before having to sing it a thousand times to learn it, I never fully recognized the sentimental unwinding at the close of the song — how the singer stops pointing the finger and shares the responsibility of the failed relationship.

Also luxurious was the experience of becoming friends with the incredible community that gathers around the hearth of Lyric Hall in Westville. John Cavaliere, our incredible host each night, teaches everyone he meets the meaning of hospitality and making one’s daily work a work of art – and most importantly, he doesn’t teach this with words. Muffy, JoAnne, Thea, Anne, Frank, Gar, Matthew – I am so grateful to you and your artistic souls. Thank you for welcoming me into your lives and your homes and for making New Haven feel very much like home while I was there. I can’t wait to return – as long as there are no more blizzards!