Music Friday: Jiggity Jig

(Photo by Tim Frenz)

Summer weekends means packing up my guitar and playing some music on a stage somewhere. This Friday is no different. In a minute or two I’ll gather my set lists, run through a few songs, pick out what the hell I’m gonna wear and hit the road.

Tonight I’m playing with the new band, Outlaw Sippin’, at a Grill Fest celebrating area farmers and ranchers by North Dakota’s capitol city.

Tomorrow I’ll take the stage with a different band to play music in honor of North Dakota’s 125th Birthday.

I just got a call from the studio where I plan to record another album this fall.

It will be nice to sit and focus on the music. I have some new stuff I can’t wait to get down and start playing live.

So to kick off the weekend, I’d like to give you a sneak peek of one of my new songs, performed for the first time on the Red Ants Pants Music Festival Stage last month with the boys.

Enjoy and share and “Come home again, Jiggity Jig.”

Peace, Love and Singing for my Supper,

Jessie
www.jessieveedermusic.com 

 

Sunday Column: Singing on stages

Whew, hello there.

We’re alive and well out here in Western North Dakota after a five day trip with the whole fam and the band to White Sulphur Springs, MT for the Red Ants Pants Music Festival where me and my boots got to stand on the same stage as Charley Pride, Jason Isbell, Brandi Carlile, Corb Lund, Josh Ritter, James McMurtry and so many more.

In the lifetime I’ve spent behind this guitar I doubt I’ve had as much fun with my music as I’ve had since recording and promoting “Nothing’s Forever.” Maybe it’s because I’m older now and take the elusive promise of fame less seriously. Maybe it’s because I’m home and  being home allows me to be myself in my music, and I’m aware that I’m becoming more myself every day…

Or maybe it’s because I’ve found that there are people out there who understand what I’m doing here and they let me know that songs about coming home to the front porch light always on reminds them of their family in their home, wherever that may be. However it may have impacted them.

But there are some days I wonder what I’m doing way out here writing songs, papers spread across the bed, late into the night while my husband falls asleep on the couch.

Being a small town musician doesn’t make you a rich woman. Being a small town musician sends you out the door in the evening to towns hours away and finds you behind headlights in the quietest hours of the early morning, the hours still considered part of the night. The hours that, even in oil country, find you to be the only headlights on the road.

And the more successful you become, the more time you spend behind those headlights.

I’ve known this about my career since I recorded my first album at age 16. You want to sing on stages? Then you won’t be home for dinner some nights.

You want to pay back those album costs? Then your weekends are planned girl.

You want a husband? Then he has to be the kind of man who doesn’t need you to make him those dinners every night. He has to be the kind of man who’s ok with you leaving the house at 7 pm to practice music with a room full of talented men behind instruments. He has to be ok with you coming home at 2 am on a Tuesday night.

And, you know, dragging you and your family for hours across a giant state pulling a camper, then waking up to make you all breakfast in the morning…

You want to make some money? Then you better find another job flexible enough to get you through from gig to gig. You better get creative girl.

Because, like most jobs, it isn’t all glamorous. But for me, if it was about the glamour, I would have stopped after my first nerve-filled meltdown on the bathroom floor as a young teenager.

I would have stopped before I made the decision on my college circuit to leave after a show at 9 PM from Fargo and drive through the night to get to Chicago to play on a stage before noon.

I would have called it quits after the first time I had to get dressed in my car and do my makeup/”shower” in a public restroom.

I would have quit before I got lost in Green Bay and Minneapolis, slept on the side of the road in a blizzard, or in the cheapest, sketchest motels I could afford.

I would have quit before we got a flat tire on the most lonesome stretch of highway on our way to White Sulphur Springs…

(Brandi Carlile) 

And then I would have missed the best parts, the parts that keep me doing this, the characters in my songs and the characters who come when I call with their guitars and harmonies and ideas, putting life in the music.

Making the songs worth it. Making me forget that it’s midnight and I have a deadline in the morning. Making me forget that once I considered pursuing a career as a landscape architect…for like three minutes, when I was seventeen and didn’t know better.

That’s the thing about music. If you keep singing it will keep giving–new experiences, new people to love, new places to travel and new things to say you’ll never do again…

(Charley Pride)

It transforms us. The audience. The singers. The players.

I saw it happen this weekend. It cuts us loose. It turns ranchers into rock stars. Strangers into friends. It makes kids hopeful and inspired.

It makes stoic cowboys tap their toes, maybe dance a little.

It makes my little sister cry.

It connects us to each other through a shared emotion. And I don’t care if it’s one ear or thousands, music is made to tell our story, to find a memory, to understand the human condition. And there are ears out there in every corner of these wild places, the quiet and unassuming places, streets full of people or pastures once filled with cows.

When we’re together, shoulder to shoulder, facing a stage or behind a guitar, I’d like to think we’re better at listening to one another. To ourselves.

And that’s why I sing.

Coming Home: Size of stage not a measure of singer’s success
by Jessie Veeder
7-27-14
Forum Communications
http://www.inforum.com

Why not here? Big music in a small town.

Husband’s checking the air on the pickup tires and I just changed my guitar strings. Tomorrow morning bright and early we’re loading up our boots and guitars (and coolers) and heading west to the Red Ants Pants Music Festival in White Sulphur Springs, Montana.

Or, more accurately, a cow pasture near White Sulphur Springs, Montana.

I’m pretty excited. Because look down here, look close under Charley Pride and Brandi Carlile, Ian Tyson, Corb Lund and Holly Williams.

See it there, my name? Jessie Veeder. I made the poster.

Woot!
red-ants-pants-music-festival-2014-poster

Which means I also made the big stage and I can’t wait to play on it out under that big Montana Sky with some of my favorite musicians standing next to me, and more on the roster to take the stage throughout the weekend.

This festival is near and dear to my heart for so many reasons, the brain child of Sarah Calhoun, founder and inventor of Red Ants Pants, tough work pants that for women, this festival proves that real music about real people playing real instruments still pulls at audiences from all walks of life creating a kind of crowd a girl like me dreams of playing for night after night. 

Sarah is one of those kick-ass women who is sweet and tough and smart and just ballsy enough to not only start her own business in a small town in rural Montana, but to bring big musical acts to that same small town in the name of doing some good here.

Sarah’s non-profit, the Red Ants Pants Foundation, was founded in support of women’s leadership, working family farms and ranches, and rural communities. The proceeds of this festival benefit the non-profit’s grants and help run timber-skils and women’s leadership programs. 

If I could have Sarah over for drinks on Saturday nights I think the two of us could get into some trouble.

Today there was a little story on me in Missoula, Montana’s paper, The Missoulian, in preparation for my trip to Red Ants. Read it here:

Bakken-area singer/songwriter moves to Red Ants main stage
by Megan Marolf
The Missoulian 

So many times in my life I have been asked why not Nashville? Why not L.A. or New York? Why don’t you try to make it somewhere

Some days I have wondered these things myself.

And then I ask, Why not here? Why not home?

I think that’s what Sarah was thinking when she dared to make a big ass plan for a small town.

And I have to say, me and the couple thousand people making the trek to the middle of Montana this weekend, we just love her for it.

See ya there!

Jessie

Diners, Fenceposts and Cowboy Poems: Road Trip to Elko

1,037 miles, 16 hours, seven thousand fenceposts, one overnight snowstorm,

two or three little hometown diner meals

one night in a Comfort Inn in Idaho Falls and a couple of tourist moments later…

Twin Falls, ID

and we finally made it all the way down to Elko, Nevada from the great white north to participate in the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

There’s cowboys here from all over the country, but it turns out I’m the only one with red scoria still stuck to her car and a good ‘ol Northern, kinda sounds like you’re from Canada, accent.

And I’m the one hanging around with this guy.

I can’t tell you what it means to be here surrounded by all of this talent, all of these stories of ranch living, all of these expressive people in hats and boots and some really great mustaches. Last night I met a hat maker with a leather-tooled neck tie and vowed I’d find one and start spreading his style-sense back in North Dakota.

Would it be weird if I wore a leather tooled neck tie?

Maybe.

Anyway, last night was my first gig at the Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

Martha Scanlan sound check

I took the stage at the Convention Center for a show called “Straddling the Line,” with landscape storyteller and accomplished musician Martha Scanlan and sage rocker and cowboy Brenn Hill.  In its 30th Anniversary the gathering is focused on the next generation of cowboy poets, singers and storytellers so we each took our turn talking and singing about what it means to be out here loving our land and the work we do.

Watch the full concert here: 

The audience and the people here are warm and inviting. We’re from all over the country, but we have things in common and so much to learn from one another. Wednesday night we rolled into town and bought tickets to a Ranch Radio Show where Stephanie Davis sang about the magic of baling twine, and besides the leather-tie promise, I promise to learn all the words to that song, because I swear it was written about Pops.

Today the streets and concert halls will fill up again, a sea of cowboy hats and the buzz of information, stories and music being passed around.

This morning we will walk down the street for a fresh donut and I’ll take the stage with my friend D.W. Groethe before heading back to the Convention Center to join other forth and fifth generation ranchers to talk about what it’s like to be back on the ranch.

Tonight we will see Ian Tyson and dance at Stockmens.

And tomorrow we’ll do it all over again before heading back up north to the horses taking in the winter sun on the top of the hills outside my window.

Music has given me so many gifts in my life, this week is one of them.

Grateful to be here. Grateful to tell my story.

Grateful that you all are listening and sharing yours too.

Peace, Love and Happy Trails!
Jessie

Cowboy Singing

We’re looking ahead out here in the arctic tundra. Every day Pops is getting stronger and more antsy and our biggest job is to keep him from taking the keys and heading out the door without us.

I keep reminding him that it’s only been 2 weeks since they cut him open and rearranged his heart, but it doesn’t matter.

He’s ready to move on.

And so we are. Moving on and looking forward, me in particular to next week when I’ll be loading up my guitar and my husband and all of my boots to head on down to Elko, Nevada for the 30th Annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

It’s a big event and my first visit as an entertainer, so I’m excited.

And then I saw my name in the Western Horseman Magazine and I got even more excited.

North Dakota. Montana. Close enough.

Then I got nervous.

And I’ve been going back and forth between those two emotions for a few months.

But it’s going to be a good trip and I’m happy to be a part of an event that celebrates and lifts up Cowboy culture with poetry, art, music, dancing and lessons on things like leather-working, two-stepping and cast-iron cooking.

It’s our kind of party, I tell you what.

I’ve always been thankful for the opportunity to grow up in these hills so I’m thankful for the opportunity to tell my story a few state’s over.

And I’m thankful for the music.

If you’re in the area, stop on over. Here’s my schedule:

Thursday, January 30

Straddling the Line

With Brenn Hill, Martha Scanlan & Jon Neufeld
8:30-10:00 PM
Elko Convention Center Auditorium
$35/$30
Fusing deep rural experience with diverse musical influences, 29-year-old troubadour Jessie Veeder demonstrates that the younger generation doesn’t really leave the ranch behind–but they may find themselves straddling the line. The musical outcome is electrical and enthralling.  

Friday, January 31

Jessie Veeder & DW Groethe
10:45 – 11:45 AM
Flag View Auxiliary

Back on the Ranch
With Meghan O’Toole Lally and others
1:00-2:15 PM
Gold Room, Convention Center

Saturday, February 1

Across the Medicine Line
With Doris Daley & Rodney Nelson
10:00 – 11:00 AM
Gold Room, Convention Center

Being Cowboy in a Digital World
with Jessica Hedges & Jolyn Young
2:30-3:45 PM
Gold Room, Convention Center

Here’s a link for more information about the gathering. 
www.westernfolklife.org

And here’s a link to a little interview and a few songs I played on a North Dakota Morning show. I woke up at 4 am to get there in time, so please take that into consideration with your critique :)

Music with Jessie Veeder
NBC North Dakota Today

For more information about my music visit:
www.jessieveedermusic.com 

 

A breath.

Ever had one of those weeks where you have not allowed yourself one moment? Where you’re so scheduled that there’s no room to sleep in just a little bit late, to linger on a phone call with a friend, to take the long way home, to stroll instead of power walk or to take an extra minute on a decision about which cheese you want on your sandwich?

In fact, you’d rather not be given the option of cheese because that’s just another decision you have to deal with and you know it doesn’t matter anyway as you drip mayo all over your computer’s keyboard, a small but messy casualty that comes with your attempt at multi-tasking.

I hate it when I do this to myself. I hate the inevitability that sometimes, everything I have on my plate needs immediate attention in the same five day time frame.

I hate when I have to pencil in “breathe.”

So here’s my breath.

Take it with me with a glass of wine and the crickets and the sky and a big sigh by the man behind the camera.

Because I’m standing on the hill and I can see the weekend from here.

And it’s looking like cool fall breezes blowing, a new to-do list and a couple shots of Baileys in my coffee.

Peace, love and keepin’ it together,

Jessie

Heroes Proved

I’ve been writing music since I was a little girl. Some of it has escaped the walls that held me at the time, others have been locked up, unfinished, never ready to be played for anyone.

I have ideas. I try to show you. I try to tell it as I see it, or maybe as a stranger might. I try to share a little piece of me and my surroundings with whoever wants to listen.

I don’t always know what it is that I want to say.

Sometimes, if I’m lucky, the song knows better.

When I was in college touring the midwest in my Chevey Lumina, I wrote a song called “Heroes Proved.” It was the middle of winter in Northern North Dakota and I was cold. I was on the road and alone a lot. I missed home,  the smell of the sage and horse hair, black cows and the way the grass bends in the breeze.

I missed the neighbors and how they would come and visit on Sunday and linger over coffee.

And I missed cowboys, the ones I was convinced no longer existed in the world, except the few I left behind,  scattered and  lonely on the quiet scoria road.

I didn’t know if I would ever get back to that place for good.

I didn’t know if that place even existed anymore.

I didn’t know anything.

“Heroes Proved” was my way of asking the world to slow down.  I was desperate for it, but in a completely different way then I am now.

Now that I’m home and never leaving.

Now that I’m home and watching the world drive by–rushing, digging, kicking up dust on the way to meet the bottom line.

At 20 years old I couldn’t see the future. At 20 years old what I was writing felt so personal and disconnected from my peers. At 20 years old I couldn’t have known the progress waiting to barrel down that dusty road toward my family’s ranch, bringing me and the world with it.

“Heroes Proved” hasn’t been on my set list for years. I moved it out of the way to make room for new words and ideas.

I never considered that some of my songs might have become more relevant to me over time.

This is one.

“I think what you notice most when you haven’t been home in a while
is how much the trees have grown around your memories.”

― Mitch AlbomFor One More Day

Late summer rain


It’s hot here. Like 90 some degrees. Hot and a little bit windy and a little bit dusty and a lot like late August.

The ditch sunflowers are out in full bloom and everything is taking cover, looking for shade or a place to cool down.

The heat woke up the  wasps. And the black flies. And the scum growing on the pond. The weeds are prickly and tall. The dust settles in on the lines on my face and makes me look a little weathered as I wander sort of aimlessly around the farmyard, thinking I should be doing something on this late summer afternoon.

But there’s nothing worth doing when the sun’s this hot.

The neighbors are putting up hay in the fields above the house.

They’re combining the pea crop up the road.

Someone out in this country is fixing fences.

When it’s hot like this the work still needs to get done. And so the cowboys and farmers are out in it, their faces red under their caps, their arms dark brown and dirty under the sleeves of their t-shirts.

Out there under the hot sun they work, thinking it’s likely a storm will blow through tonight, this heat conjuring up a big set of thunderheads on the horizon.

Thinking how nice a  rain would feel right now, the cool drops hitting their backs, the lightning striking and thunder cracking, promising a downpour to interrupt the work.

There’s nothing like a late summer storm that sends you into the house.

There’s nothing like watching it pour and knowing there’s nowhere you can be now.

Nothing you can do but watch.

I had the windows open last week as the clouds darkened the evening and turned dust to mud. I had my guitar in my hands and it was so sultry, being cooped up in the house, my husband on the easy chair reading a book and me singing something.

To me a summer storm out here is weighed down with emotion: relief and renewal, unrest and electricity, and a sort of loneliness I can’t explain. The sound of the rain on thirsty things makes me want to sit a bit closer to him, to tell him things I’ve forgotten to tell him, remember the other storms we watched together.

Because there is nowhere we can be. No work to be done in the pouring rain.

So I sang.

Sun beats down
turning my pale skin brown
I have been cold for months
I turn my face up

I hear the thunder crack
heavy drops lick my back
and I think how nice it is
that I can cool down like this

Oh, it’s raining
and lightning
it’s pouring

Oh, it’s raining
can’t get the crop in
come in and sit down
come on into the house

I’ll take that heavy coat
soaked to the skin, the bones
I’ll cook you something warm
as we wait out the storm

There’s nothing like summer heat
cooled down by a thundering breeze
there’s nothing like you and me
running

Oh, it’s raining
and lightning
it’s pouring

Oh, it’s raining
can’t get the crop in
come in and sit down
come on into the house

Looks like it’s letting up
steam rolls from your coffee cup
held by your callused hands
I like these change of plans

I pull your collar up
say this weather is like our love
pouring the heat on us
then it’s raining

Oh, it’s raining
and lightning
it’s pouring

Oh, it’s raining
can’t get the crop in
come in and sit down
come on into the house


For more of my music visit:
www.jessieveedermusic.com

Music in Montana


So I have a really exciting weekend coming up and I am pathetically distracted by the anticipation of it all.

My meetings turn into day dreams, my rhubarb jelly is still just rhubarb, and my writing projects have all turned into lists of what we need to bring with us on our camping trip to the middle of a pasture in the middle of summer in the middle of beautiful Montana in the middle of a kick ass music festival where the boys and me have been granted an opportunity to play music among some of the greats.

I’m talking great, like Merle Haggard great. Like Corb Lund great. Like Robert Earl Keen, The Waylin’ Jennys, Todd Snider and many more talents set to pick and sing and tap their toes under that big Montana sunset.

I’m peeing my pants here in anticipation for Friday when I load up my music and my hat and hit the road for the Red Ants Pants Music Festival in White Sulphur Springs, Montana.

I’ll tell you why this is so cool for me on so many levels.

A weekend full of high caliber music, banjos and mandolins and harmonicas and guitars and songs about horses and love under a big blue sky with a cold brew in my hand is like on the top of my list titled “What heaven better be like.”

And if that’s not enough really, I get to bring my guitars, my boys, the lovely lonesome sound of the harmonica, my words and my music and we get to be a part of it all.

That kicks ass.

But what I’m most excited about really is what this festival is all about, because that’s the really cool part.

The Red Ants Pants Festival was created by a woman who grew up on a farm in Montana who was sitting at a coffee shop one day wondering why there weren’t any practically designed work pants on the market for women. I mean, tight, low waisted,  bedazzled butted jeans aren’t the most comfortable when a woman’s out chopping wood or pouring cement or pushing cows through the chute.

So she invented some. They’re called Red Ants Pants and you can buy them (and hats and t-shirts, aprons and belts and other fun stuff)  at www.redantspants.com 

And if you’re in White Sulphur Spring, Montana you can swing in her shop and buy some there.


I admire a woman who finds a solution to a problem (especially when it comes to minimizing butt crack and wedgies).

And I respect a woman who gives back to her community. And that’s what Sarah Calhoun is doing with this Red Ants Pants mission. She’s not only helping women get work done and look good doing it, she’s also established a foundation, The Red Ants Pants Foundation, with a mission to “support women’s leadership, working family farms and ranches, and rural communities; the three things most important to Calhoun, the company, and the Red Ants Pants Community.”

A portion of the festival ticket sales will go back to the foundation to help these causes. So while we’re singing and tapping our toes to the music, while we’re drinking beer and watching the sun go down on Montana, we will be supporting rural communities and the woman and families who work there. And that’s a really great thing.

Plus, they are hosting the Montana Beard and Mustache Competition State Finals, and really, that will be worth the trip right there.

I’m excited to be a part of it all…not the mustache competition necessarily, but the music part.

So we load up our guitars and our lawn chairs, hot dogs and picnic baskets, sleeping bags and lanterns and hit the highway pointing west on Friday.

And Saturday at 8:30 MT we’ll be singing under the Montana sky.

If you’re around, maybe I’ll see you there under your cowboy hat or big Montana beard.

If not, I hope you are making plans to spend this weekend in the middle of the best part of summer in the middle of a little piece of your own heaven.

And if you step outside and close your eyes and listen really close, maybe you’ll hear the music floating up to you from the edge of the mountains.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some lists to make.

Peace, Love and Harmonicas,

Jessie
jessieveedermusic.com
facebook.com/jessieveedermusic


Learn more about Red Ants Pants

Festival Information: redantspantsmusicfestival.com
Foundation Information: redantspantsfoundation.com
Product Information: redantspants.com 

Crocuses and how it could keep getting better…

It’s officially crocus season, and that’s good news out here on the edge of the badlands where we’ve all been patiently waiting for them to arrive, as if the blooming of the first flower gives us permission to pack away our sweaters and pull out the short sleeves.

Well, that’s what I did anyway. I made a mountain out of the sweaters shoved in my closet. I pulled them out ceremoniously flinging them to the floor, purging my room of winter before I stood back and seriously contemplated throwing them out the window and lighting a match on the whole damn pile.

But that would have been crazy, and, well, let’s be honest, I’ll need them again in a few short months. Anyway, I didn’t have time for that. Little Sister was coming over and she had plans to soak up the sunshine and I had plans to procrastinate painting the bathroom.

So we grabbed our cameras and the herd of dogs…

One…

Two…

Three…

Four.

and went climbing around, scouring the ground for the purple flower.


Turns out we didn’t have to go far.





When you become familiar with a place in all of it’s seasons, you memorize where the crocuses bloom in the spring, where to go to pick chokecherries and raspberries in the summer, and to always, no matter the season, watch out for cactus.

We know these places because prairie people like us have vivid memories of hunting for crocuses with our grandmother, sisters, mothers or fathers, bending over to pull them from the tangle of brown grass while the warm spring wind picked up the loose hair that escaped from our ponytails.

I’ve been living back at the ranch for three springs and I will be here for the rest of the springs I am given. I will never forget what it felt like to climb to that hilltop and pick the first crocus of the year as I stood with my husband we looked down at our home.

And we were happy to be together, happy for summer to arrive and happy to stand on that hill for a moment that we were sure couldn’t get much better from here.

Then my Little Sister moved to our hometown and now the whole family is together and close and on Monday mornings I can expect a call asking me what I’m doing this weekend. Because my Little Sister plans ahead and I’m glad to be consulted on those plans.

So Saturday’s plans made room for crocus hunting in the warm sunshine next to a girl who used to follow me on my after school walks up the creek to my fort. I used to wish she would leave me alone then. I used to holler at her to stop following me and when we came in the house crying and fighting, our mom would promise us that someday, we would be best friends.

Funny how moms are usually, most likely, pretty much, always exactly right.

Funny how some things change, but I still haven’t mastered the art of convincing Little Sister to help me with my chores…like, oh, you know, painting the bathroom.

Funny how she still doesn’t listen to me.

Funny how the crocuses bloom on the same hill every year and someday we might have a chance to watch our own children run to the top and pick us a purple bloom.

Funny how it could possibly keep getting better.