livestream update 

Thanks to everyone who's been stopping by my Facebook music page livestreams <3 it's been so lovely to play for you all!

Here's a replay of the first one:

first FB live... Saturdays and Wednesdays (not Thursdays! oops)

I've been doing these completely unplugged so far -- no mic, no amp, etc.The mandolin in this video is my favorite electric, though, and I like it the best even when it's unplugged. It's been super fun finally to be able to work out some kind of mandolin versions for more of my songs; none of them (so far) were written for the mando and a few of them definitely still have me stumped! But I'm persevering... and very much enjoying sharing that process with you.

In the midst of this distressing time, I have felt so happy to be able to bring a bit of comfort and fun to people. I'd been looking forward to playing some more "in person" concerts... but obviously, right now it's unclear as to when, if, or how we'll be able to return to playing in the same room with others. For now, I'm playing these short sets of originals (and a few covers) every Saturday at 1pm and every Wednesday at 6:30pm (EST) on my Facebook music page -- so stop on by and say hi, if you can :) If you can't make those times, most of the replays are still up for now. Stay safe and be well, everyone.

live songs 4 U 

Due to these corona times, I'm going to start playing a few songs live online for anyone who is going stir crazy inside or who just wants to stop by and hang out. It's something that I've wanted to start doing anyway for a long time now... I just didn't have my setup together the way that I wanted yet, and well It seems like now is the time to get started regardless! I'll be livestreaming a short set of originals and covers on my Facebook music page, Saturdays at 1pm and Wednesdays at 6:30pm. Nothing fancy, just me and the mando for now (and if you don't make it live, I usually leave the replays up for a while).

You don't need to be logged into Facebook to watch; here's the link: Lacy James Facebook Music Page 

Starting today. Maybe you'll stop by and say hi :)

après-busking pic! by Ed Tristram

greetings from corona central 

As you can imagine, it's pretty harrowing in NYC these days... heading into April this dreaded illness has already taken its toll on the NYC community in all too terrible ways... and it's only going to get worse for the next few weeks.

I haven't written a post in so very long, but I figured I would drop a line to say so far, so ok... I'm hunkered down for now.

Since my last post I had mostly been doing a lot of busking, but I've been getting ready to start playing more shows again. At the beginning of March I had the pleasure to join a rockin' bill at The Red Lion on Bleecker Street in the Village during the week-long N.Y.C. Women Rock festival -- it was great to see so many familiar faces :) Many thanks to Val Kinzler and VioLizzy for inviting me on board and for backing me up, along with fab drummer Wizard of ROZ! And thank you to Alan Rand for this great pic :) Got that one in just in time before lockdown... Take care, everyone, and stay safe. Sending much love and strength to wherever you are.


thanks to Alan Rand for the great pic!

been busking <3 

Some of my most wonderful moments last year occurred during my first ever times busking. Right now it's January, and my fingers don't cooperate well when it's cold outside -- & it's not so great for the mandolin either. I've hardly been out to play since the fall and I am missing it, so I'll take the time now to tell you about some of my busking adventures...

Last May, I was feeling such a need to be out playing more and I finally started going to play in the park, as often as possible. I'd always felt some trepidation at the idea of busking -- my music isn't usually very loud (especially when I play solo); so far, I only know how to play a few covers (and not even that many of my own songs) on the mando; my original songs don't quite fall into a mainstream genre.... overall, I was just afraid that busy passersby would not connect with what I have to offer. But now, I just had to get out there somehow. And -- playing in the park turned out to be perfect for my music. I found a few magical spots under a couple of "secret" archways that add a bit of volume & reverb... I do love reverb :)

There have been so many amazing surprises while busking. I have learned more clearly that each day and each "audience" is different and unpredictable, and that you can't always tell at first whether or not people are into the music. They may not even look over when they pass by, but sometimes if you are brave enough to smile and keep playing and look at them, they will turn and smile (passersby can be shy, too). Other times, people give me big smiles right away, thumbs up, come over with coins, bills, or compliments, ask questions, take pictures, or just stop to talk... you just never know what to expect, and I find joy in all of these. Sometimes I get so emotional from people's responses (especially the children), or from the meanings of the songs, that I struggle not to cry and to keep singing... I am learning to allow these emotions, while continuing on in order to give what I have to give.

A few moments from this past year's busking that I will always treasure:

The tiny child, perhaps younger than two years old, who slowly walked up and stood 3 feet away from me, transfixed and staring up, while I played through three whole songs for him (and the parents who waited to allow this, and then thanked me emotionally afterwards).  

The little boy and his mother who sat down on the ground to listen to a whole "set" of 5-6 songs... except for one of them, which got him up twirling and dancing :) 

The young men who tossed in golden dollar coins (and the ones who tossed in paper dollars, too)! 

The girls who danced their way through the tunnel to "Angel Bells". 

The little boy who blew "dust" off the dollar that fell on the ground, before putting it safely into my busking box. 

All of the passers by for whom I could feel that a particular song seemed to give something that they really needed, that day.

The young British man who stood leaning against the opposite arch with shades on, unsmiling, and watching, for a whole song... and then who came over and said it was wonderful and that he was going to put me into the book he was writing! I wonder if he will...

The Japanese woman who stopped and said that she plays mandolin also, and she plays in a mandolin orchestra in Japan... I felt shy to play for her but she seemed to enjoy it.. I hope! 

Sometimes it's just me and the birds and trees... and I love those moments too.

Here's a little bit of "In the Garden" for you -- in my favorite spot :)


Even though I (so far) haven't been busking in very in-demand areas, I do walk out each time knowing that my spots might be taken, especially during summer weekends. On some days, I still have to make myself go out because I can still feel nervous and/or like I just don't have the energy. But often those days where I feel reluctant at first turn out to be the most wonderful days. It's a profound and magical experience, to feel how music touches people... and I feel so grateful to be able to give this. These moments bring me to the heart of why I'm even creating music... sharing beauty, truth, love... and I get back as much, or maybe more, than whatever I am able to give. Thank you <3 <3 <3

Moon Goddess flies twice around the Sun 


It's been two years now that I've had the great joy of working with three wonderful female musicians/singer-songwriters as the collective Moon Goddess band... bringing our superpowers together! We all still play our own "solo artist" gigs too, though we do sometimes appear in each others' bands :)


photo: Taylor Arbab


As Moon Goddess we perform songs by each of us (plus a few select covers), and I still feel amazed at how our musical styles and vocal harmonies somehow swirl into a cosmic magical mix. We are grateful for the awesome support that we've received from our audiences, and from our Lunar Dudes :) and many other shining stars who have sometimes joined us to add to the vibes. Although we've played quite a number of gigs by now, we don't yet have a lot of good video but here are a few clips... in which we are joined on harp and percussion by our occasional superstellar colleague, the amazing Greta "Gem Goddess" Tristram <3






 

These talented ladies can jump around from rock to country to bluegrass to world music to jazz & whatever else... open to it all and always with a spirit of fun, onstage or off. It's truly a blessing to work with and to know each of these beautiful, funny, wickedly talented, wise, and good-hearted women.


When we first played a few impromptu gigs, we weren't thinking of starting an ongoing band. But it quickly became clear to us that there was something special in putting us all together, and our audiences seem to love it too... so, we haven't stopped since!


photo: Alan Rand


All of the MGs are native New Yorkers except for me!




You can find out more about each of these accomplished artists and their wonderful music at the links below:


Val Kinzler

Michelle Fury

Liz Taub


Moon Goddess doesn't have a website thus far but we do have a Facebook page where we post upcoming events. I hope that you'll have the opportunity to come hear us live and in person one day soon!

mni wiconi 

As you may have noticed, most of my work is inspired by the intersection of Spirit and Nature. I feel tremendously moved by the courageous and peaceful Native American water protectors who are currently opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline and I was able to attend a support rally for them last week in NYC. They see and understand what many others do not. And of course, as a MerMaid... I must echo their words "Mni Wiconi" <3 "Water is Life". This is much of what inspired my "Osmosis Song".... My heart is with these brave leaders in the battle to save our planet. To find out more about them including how you can help, go here: Sacred Stone Camp.

journey of a song - "Today in the City" 

 
I thought I would tell the story of one of my favorite songs on the new album and how it came to be what it is. Sometimes a song ends up very differently from how you expect, and Today In The City was one of those songs.

After I had moved back to Philly a few years ago, I was going up to NYC fairly often for some dance projects and other business and I would sometimes write on the bus. One sunny morning, the lyrics for this song began to emerge on the way there. I thought of how on any given day in the city you were bound to see unpredictable and sometimes amazing things, and I think I decided that day to write down whatever I saw and see if it could be a song. I seem to remember that the children's book "And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street" came across my mind. On this particular day I had two or three meetings with a lot of time in between, so I was writing in a couple of cafes and other places. When I write it's best for me to have a lot of time to be able to just sit and kind of go into a kind of meditative or contemplative state, almost like a trance, where my mind can wander and find things. On this day there was plenty of time for that, and in the course of the day I did see some strange and unexpected things that found their way into the song. I also was hanging out in a few areas of the city where certain things had happened to me in the past, so some of those found their way in as well -- although the song is poetic and not necessarily literal. It's a mix of some real things with some imagined, and the lyrics have been somewhat abstracted. I think that most of it could really be about any city, or anyone's life.

On that day I saw and remembered a mix of beautiful and horrible things. That's the intensity of the city, in that it's a microcosm of life itself. There was the awareness that time (and the city) moves on, through the beautiful and the horrible. And that life comes back again in places where death has been. And that death is always there waiting as well. It was a way of looking at the whole thing from outside of time, where any one particular event is just one of billions of events, and also recognizing the intense beauty or horror of each thing that might happen.

Once the day was over, I had a long stream of consciousness piece of writing that still needed to be crafted and made into lyrics. And somehow, I had to find a way to write music that would work with these words. I thought, who writes songs like this? And I thought of Bob Dylan's album Time Out of Mind, which I had listened to quite often when it first came out. I thought, he has a lot to say, and so when he tells those long rambling stories like "Highlands" he keeps the music very simple so that the focus will be on the story. The music itself doesn't have to be anything too fancy, and that way it won't distract. So I went back and listened to that song and a few others from that album, and I thought ok, I'll just come up with a simple repetitive kind of bluesy thing kind of like that and see how that goes.

I made something that wasn't really working so well for me but it was a start, and then as I usually do when writing, I wanted to find a sound that would represent to me the feeling of the song. I like to add in such sounds when I'm writing because it helps me continue to complete the song, when I can get some kind of atmosphere going. I found this oozy smoky kind of sound, I felt that it was kind of creeping through the song like a sort of sinister threat, it was smoky so the edges were hazy. The way that life bleeds into and across time.

Then I also needed to figure out what kind of rhythm to use. Originally I had it in 4/4, like the Dylan stuff I was remembering, but eventually I decided to see what would happen if I tried it on 3s -- and then it somehow started to get jazzy. Which was not at all what I had expected! I've recently started getting more into jazz but I really don't know much about it, and I had never really thought about writing or singing any jazz. But here it was, the song was working better in this rhythm and it really started to feel right. So, jazz! And I knew that I probably wanted a smoky sax on it, and I knew just the sound that I wanted. I'd been going to hear my friend Tom Tallitsch's band and was listening to his album Perspective, and I thought that he would bring just the right kind of sound for the song. And now that it had turned into jazz, all the more reason to bring Tom in. I was so happy that he did end up playing on this track.

It was maybe a year or so after I wrote the demo that I found my way to Turtle Studios and began production on the album with Jeff Hiatt. I think that when we started, I didn't quite realize that Jeff had such a strong background in jazz (among other genres). So when we came to lay down the basic tracks for "Today In The City", it was just so exciting for me to hear him on upright bass, with the amazing Charlie Patierno on drums, taking the song to a whole other level. The way they played the rhythm, they took it to a place where it ended up swinging, which my original really didn't. Right away I knew that I would have to take a different approach to the vocal so that was a bit scary for me! I thought, I'm not a jazz singer, I've never done that before, and I'm really not sure if I can pull this off! But I took the tracks home and was able to adjust my phrasing, and even though I don't think I really sound like a jazz singer I think it fits the song.

Another wonderful day was the session when Tony Mascara came in to lay down some vibes. I am just a sucker for ambience, so vibes and their vibes... I could listen to them all day. Tony also brought a bunch of fun junkyard-esque items to add on percussion. Having some hubcaps in there kind of made sense, and it was good to add some harder/sharper/more concise sounds to all of the oozy stuff that we had going on.


















After we cut the vocal, another thought I had was that maybe I sounded a little too happy singing about some terrible things. But the vocal is more of a survival thing, a looking at things from outside and seeing life as a whole. The vocal kind of moves along, just like the instruments, through time and through all of the experiences. I guess it's just another part of the juxtaposition which runs through the song, distilling the experience of life with good and bad into one song, one city, one moment out of infinite moments.

(listen to Today In The City)
 
 
 

appearing on Alive With Clive this week 

Earlier this summer, Tim Daoust and I drove up to White Plains, NY to record an appearance for cable TV music talk show Alive With Clive, hosted by the wonderful Clive Swersky. Our segment aired last night on Channel 76 in White Plains and repeats this Wednesday, August 21st, at 7:00pm. It will also be streaming online during that time at http://wpcommunitymedia.org

We had so much fun and the segment came out really well -- I hope you'll get a chance to watch!

If you miss the air time on Wednesday, you can still catch us on the Alive With Clive website from noon on 8/22 until 10pm on 8/28 (you will need to create a login to view it there) at: http://alivewithclive.tv/blog

















At Clive's request we performed four songs from the new album -- "Old Languages", "Practical Magic", "Icarus", and "Dancing Out of the Dark". Tim used his loop pedal with the electric guitar for the first and last songs, and in between performing I chatted with Clive about the music. Clive won me over completely when he said that I reminded him of Ellie Goulding, who is one of my favorite new artists... I was quite stunned that he would say that! It pretty much made my day.

















yes I drank from this water cooler



















hangin' with Clive


















Tim provides the soundtrack for post-show eats





















summer shows...summer happiness 

I wanted to share a little bit here from our shows last month. If you made it out to either or both of these gigs, thank you again for helping to make these two evenings very special!

First was a duo set with myself and Tim Daoust at the cool little "subterranean music parlor" Zirzamin. It was our second booking there, and at midnight it was also my birthday. I really couldn't have thought of a better way to celebrate than playing music for such a wonderful, appreciative group of people. We debuted Tim's new electric mandolin and cracked open Zirzamin's creaky old piano. The only sad note of the night was finding out mid-gig that Zirzamin would be closing the next day :( So we've lost yet another cool venue frequented by the eclectic and intriguing artists of downtown NYC :( we'll miss you Zirzamin. I'm crossing my fingers that we'll see you reborn in another location soon.

Here's a little bit of video from that night:

Then at the end of the month, we played an amazing venue in Philadelphia -- Jamey's House of Music (formerly known as the PSALM Salon). I'd never heard of this place in all the years that I've lived in Philly... apparently, people mostly find out about it through word of mouth and I just happened to hear about it in a musicians' chat room online, while trading tips with an artist from the west coast. After one night at Jamey's I truly understand why everyone loves it -- amazing acoustics and sound, a great audience, delicious homemade Chinese food and more... all I can say is, check out their website and/or better yet, visit them for a show if you're in the area.

I was so happy to finally be playing another full band show with my friends the Beards :) Despite the limited rehearsal time that we were able to have together, this was definitely our best show yet. Below are a few pics from the weekend and a couple of videos from the show. I'll be uploading more footage soon to the live music playlist on our YouTube channel. Many, many thanks to Jamey's for having us, and to all of the musicians and friends who helped to make this evening a very special one.

behind this tiny door lies our secret rehearsal lair... thanks Alec! pic stolen from Tim D ;)














back with the Beards <3
















behind this door... the wonderful Jamey's House!

setting up at Jamey's

























I think this may have been my favorite song from the night:



rocking out "Vengeance is Mine":



and finally just some weird Philly toilet paper