My Life: One Folder at a Time

on tour in snow Eileen's houseI have a folder for just about everything. Since musician life can feel chaotic, I suppose having a folder for everything just makes me feel better, more organized. I label my folders using a label-maker. Makes me feel like a pro. My files are color-coded. Here I am holding a yellow one which means I am holding a tour file from 2013 (the 2013 concert info were put into yellow folders—this year I am using orange for 2015 concert dates.) What’s in the orange folders? Gig info: name/address of venue, concert contract, emergency numbers, plane tickets, directions, hotel confirmations, rental car info, those sort of things. Some touring musicians put together a touring “book”. I worry about having a book for a tour—what if I misplace it? With one folder per show, if I misplace one folder, I don’t lose the info for the entire tour. Everything is backed up at home with “agentman husband” who is a phone call away, and that comes in handy, because now and then my GPS tries to kill me and I need advice.

I should go through all my folders and recycle their contents. But I can’t. My entire touring history is in these—concert programs, newspaper articles, where I stayed, notes on the piano I played. These folders remind me that my life has been one long and wonderful tour.

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Mama in the Wings

10945715_10204750138265511_1760951984559363177_nI opened for songwriting legend Jimmy Webb this weekend. You know his songs: By The Time I Get to Phoenix, Wichita Lineman, McArthur Park, Galveston. The concert was in NJ so I stayed with my mom, and she came with me to the theater. We leave early because I have the soundcheck at 5pm. In the car she listens to a pre-release copy of my new recording. After the first piece she tells me “Someone is going to ice skate to this one.” That makes me happy as I can’t think of a better compliment.

When mom is in the dressing room I know to expect inspection. “Why is there nail polish in your make-up bag,” she asks. “You don’t wear it.”

“It’s there in case I get a run in my stockings or something,” I tell her.

“But it’s red. You need clear polish if that should happen.”  I take note.

“What are you playing tonight?” she asks.

“Not sure…I just worked with the piano. I was waiting to assess it. Now I can figure it out. Got any ideas?”

Of course she does. Mom helps me make the set list. She changes the sequence. She comments on my hair. She likes me to leave it naturally curly rather than use the flat iron. She approves of my bra. Mom has opinions. All of them are very useful. She watches the show and I join her during Jimmy’s set. She hangs out by the CD table to see what’s selling. When someone is confused as to which album to buy, she let’s them know that hands down, “Memories of Utopia” is the quintessential Robin Spielberg experience.

It might seem strange that after all these years I still turn to my mother for help with set lists and what to wear on stage, but the truth is, she is just so darn good at these things! Thanks mom.

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The End of the Year

I am home for the first weekend in a long while, and as I write this I am already in my ‘cozy’ PJs (it is only 6pm)!  I have one more concert to play before the year ends; for those of you who live in FL, (or if you are a “snowbird” who finds refuge from the cold there this time of year), I will be in West Palm Beach at the Kravis Center this 12/20.

Here is my year-end newsletter with a peek into next year’s album release.IMG_3991PHOTO: At Cedarhouse Sound & Mastering with Owner/Engineer Gerry Putnam and Fran Putnam

 

The Best Laid Plans…

…of mice and men often go astray, and best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft a-gley.” – from the Poem by Robert Burns, “To a Mouse”

Things can often go wrong even though you have carefully planned what you are going to do.

NASA launched a rocket today filled with supplies and experiments headed to the International Space Station. Twitter lit up with tweets about where to look in the sky after the launch. Alarms were set and countdowns were made. And then the launch.

The rocket blew up shortly after take off. All that work. Five thousand pounds of supplies and gear—poof. Fortunately there was no loss of human life, but my heart aches just thinking about all that PLANNING.

I was talking with a group of musician colleagues the other day. We were talking about what it meant to be “tour ready”. I mentioned my lists: what to pack, what to play, where to stay, where to eat, what CDs to bring, set lists, rehearsal schedules, load-in times. And then there was laughter. Because we all know what it means to have “the best laid plans.” My experience tells me that inevitably things will not go as planned. I’ll get lost. A flight might be late. My rental car might break down. The tech crew won’t be ready for my arrival. The hotel clerk won’t have any record of my reservation. All this despite my lists and my attention to detail.

It’s not what happens to us in our lives that counts, but how we react to the things that happen. I am embarrassed to say that I did not always handle unexpected changes with grace. I cursed under my breath, I was rude to the airline reservations clerk, I was annoyed by the long line at the rental car counter. But now? Now I breathe. Now I see that changes occur and these changes do not have to lead to upset, but, rather, to another experience. I don’t know ahead of time what that experience will be, but now I know I am up for it.

I hope everyone at NASA will breathe, recover and simple try again.

xo Robin

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Rainy Day Craft Project #2

shelf re-doTeenaged girls collect lots of stuff. I should know. My daughter is turning 16. It’s not that she buys much, it’s just that over the years, friends and family have given her trinkets, nail polish, hairbands, lotions, potions and all kinds of sprays that smell good. What to do with it all? I found an interesting shelf at Goodwill a few weeks ago that I imagined would work well in my daughter’s bathroom, and I was right. Today it rained and my plan to weed the garden were foiled. I took out the shelf and got to work. The paint job in the photo looks pink, but the color I chose is actually more of a lilac color which matches the walls in our guest room upstairs across from this bathroom. I went through my scrapbook collection of stickers and decorative tape and added embellishments to the shelves as well as my daughter’s name on top. Perhaps this is not a family heirloom of lifetime “keeper” of all things girl, but it will do, for now.finishedshelf

Summer News

Hi Everyone, About four times a year I send out a newsletter. It used to be monthly, but now that everyone gets so much email, I decided that 4 times a year is plenty. Here is the latest news (click the blue link below). To get these in your inbox, please visit my home page and check out the subscribe link on the upper right.

JUNE NEWS

below: photo from my recent TEDx TALK now on youtube

xo Robin

Here’s to the Grads

It’s that time of year—-graduation and senior prom photos are all over Facebook; and parents everywhere are asking where did the time go. In a few years, I’ll be one of them. But until then, congratulations to all the graduates out there!  xo Robin

 

 

Rainy Day Craft Project #1

IMG_5773 I went to a flea market this weekend and picked up a few items for $1 that I thought would be nice in my home if I added a little effort and creativity. The plus-side of only spending a buck is that if the project doesn’t turn out too well, no big loss. Believe me, I have created some pretty ugly projects that ended up in the scrap pile, but fortunately, this was not one of them.

The item I purchased was originally brown and meant to hang on the wall to hold letters, keys etc. I painted it a solid color and then used the paint left over from my hallway walls so it would blend in nicely in its new location.

Then I used a sponge dipped in white paint to add a bit of texture. It gives it a less polished look and more of a “shabby chic” look. There is a house and garden etched into the wood that is now more visible because the white paint settled into the etching. I had some flower stencils left over from another project, so I took out those and added the flowers and a few white scrapbook embellishments. This is now hanging in my back-of-the-house hallway and I will keep outgoing mail there, coupons etc. so I can grab them on my way out the door.IMG_5776

Everything in Time – (press play and read…)

Time is one concept I can’t seem to grasp. We are taught from an early age that time is a constant; then we live our lives and it never feels that way. Time moves slowly. Time moves too quickly. There is too much time and we are bored. There is not enough time and we can’t finish. Then there is the complicated part of time—the kind we have to count when music is written in 9/8 or 5/4—and the kind that is counted in increments nano-seconds for Olympic medal races. Time is a mystery, but one thing is for sure: you will only have regrets if you feel you have squandered it. So here’s to making the most of our time here, and here is a composition I composed that reflects my feelings about the nature of time. It is fast. It is slow. It is constantly reminding us that the tock is ticking. (sheet music & more here:The Nature of Time)