Happy New Year!

By Bold Apps

Happy New Year!

Dear Friends, 

There are many things afoot as this year begins and I'd love to share them all with you!

UK SOLO TOUR DATES with special guest Sam Amidon:
I’m very excited to be heading out on a solo tour in the UK with special guest Sam Amidon. If you don’t know his music, check it out ASAP! He’s one of my long-time faves. We will be playing some songs together. Good times!

Feb 3rd - Twickenham, England @ The Exchange - Tickets
Feb 4th - Norwich, England @ Norwich Arts Centre - Tickets
Feb 5th - Nottingham, England @ The Bodega Social Club - Tickets
Feb 6th - York, England @ The Cresent - Tickets
Feb 7th - Liverpool, England @ Phase One - Tickets
Feb 8th - Birmingham, England @ St Paul's Church - Tickets
Feb 10th - Winchester, England @ The Railway Inn (2 shows!) - Tickets
Feb 11th - Oxford, England @ The Bullingdon - Tickets

I’ll be bringing my 9 year old son Tennessee to Colorado to show him the Garden of the Gods and other home-state treasures. He is my youngest roadie to date!

Mar 3rd - San Francisco, CA @ Noise Pop / Swedish American Hall - Tickets
w/ Valley Maker, Zelma Stone & Emily Brown
Mar 7th - Seattle, WA @ Tractor Tavern - Tickets
w/ Brenda Xu
Mar 8th - Portland, OR @ Polaris Hall - Tickets
and evening with Laura Veirs
Mar 15th - Colorado Springs, CO @ Side Door - Tickets
w/ Conor Bourgal
Mar 16th - Denver, CO @ Daniels Hall - Tickets
Mar 21st & 22nd - Boise, ID @ Treefort Music Festival - Tickets

My picture book about Elizabeth Cotten, “Libba,” just won the Pacific Northwest Book Award! It’s awesome to see the book making waves a year after publication and to know that more and more people are finding out about this wonderful hero of mine. You can buy a copy HERE at our website, or at your local bookstore or at - GASP! - amazon.com

I’ve written over 90 new songs this fall and winter. Ten of them have stayed off the cutting room floor. I’ll probably have to write about 90 more before we make a new record this summer! As Leonard Cohen said, “If I knew where the good songs came from, I’d go there more often.” 

Don’t you need a new bag to help you carry all the heavy records you are buying all the time at all the record stores? (Ha ha ha!) You can get one at any of my upcoming shows.  If we have any left after these dates we'll make them available in our shop

For those of you who have made it this far… Here is an essay I wrote about the process of making “Libba.” Pictured at the bottom is a photo of Libba’s great-granddaughter Brenda Evans and me backstage in DC last Spring. 

A New Respect for the Picture Book by Laura Veirs

I’d been reading picture books to my kids for years before writing my own. I’d always taken pleasure in them but never really considered what a deep art form the genre is. It took creating “Libba" to figure that out.

First, let’s take the words. Like in a song or poem, I wanted to get them just right. I wanted them to be musical. I wanted them to flow easily when read aloud. I didn’t want too many of them. I wanted them to be historically accurate and culturally sensitive. I wanted concrete details to hold up the story but I wanted to leave room for the illustrations to do some talking. I wanted good timing and suspense. As I got deeper into the writing process I realized that what I initially thought of as “little kid stuff” was turning out to be a major creative challenge.

I didn’t know enough about African American history or current Black experience so I read about 20 books on those topics. I listened to tons of country blues music. I talked with several people who knew Libba and they gave me excellent information about her life but I wasn’t able to locate any of Libba’s family or inner circle during my first round of interviews so I gave up. Two years later, with the deadline for publication looming, I resolved to find someone. I made an exhaustive family tree from online articles and finally (through several tries on Facebook) found someone in Libba’s family who would grant me an interview: her great-granddaughter Brenda Evans. 

Brenda was raised by Libba in a house of 10 in Washington, D.C in the 50s and 60s. Libba would put Brenda and the other grandkids to sleep by playing them songs on her guitar. Brenda sang beautifully when she was 12 on Libba’s song “Shake Sugaree." Brenda helped me considerably with getting the details and tone right for the book. Over several long phone calls we became friends. When I played a concert in Washington D.C. last Spring Brenda joined me on stage and we sang “Shake Sugaree” together. This was one of many wonderful surprises that came about from writing this book. 

Next, let’s consider the pictures. When the illustrations capture the imagination and draw the reader into the world of the story they make the book. If done badly they can break the book. I had very little say over who the illustrator would be (this is typical in picture book publishing). I hadn’t heard of Tatyana Fazlalizadeh but when I saw her work online I loved it and had a feeling she would do the story justice. I couldn’t be happier with how Tatyana captured Libba’s gentle but powerful essence. Tatyana's work is remarkable especially because this was her picture book debut. 

From the first seed of an idea to publication “Libba” took seven years to come to life. (The book takes seven minutes to read.) This book was a labor of love that I’m grateful for because I read picture books with a new eye now. Some of my childhood favorites - “George and Martha”, “Little Fur Family”, “The Amazing Bone” and “Where the Wild Things Are” - strike me now as works of genius on par with any other art form.


I can’t believe you made it to the end! 

As always, thank you for everything. I couldn’t keep doing this stuff without y’all. 

Laura and Team Raven Marching Band