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Ronda Matson: News

Thank you, CD Baby! - July 13, 2006

I'm convinced that some of the most clever, most caring, most dedicated people in this world work at CD Baby. From the first moment of my association with them, it was evident that their main goal was to make my music available to a wider audience with the least amount of nonsense. Not only do they accomplish that, they serve as an incredible informational support. Derek Sivers, the brains and motivation behind CD Baby, has been where I am. Without record company promotion, independent artists are left to their own marketing strategies. It’s a daunting task, a walk through the dark woods at night.

CD Baby is my diving board. I stood back and looked at that big pool of opportunity, not sure if I should get wet in my usual way, one inch at a time from the shallow end. It might be better to jump. As I stepped onto the diving board—it’s own little path—I realized that it’s a lot more fun to jump. And now I realize that I can do it more than once! Lord knows, it’s a very big pool, but that’s okay. I know how to swim.

I hope you’ll visit my page on the CD Baby website. Follow Destinations to “Shop” and be sure to have fun browsing the pages of other musicians as well.

Thanks, CD Baby!

Running for Gigs - July 10, 2006

Trying to line up gigs is like running for the merry-go-round at recess.

Remember when you were a kid and it was time for recess? At the risk of really dating myself, I’ll admit that I was one of those kids who loved the monkey bars, hopscotch, playing kickball and tetherball and jumping rope during recess. I was a mover. (At times, it got to be a bit much. My mother would look out of her kitchen window, only to find that I’d made a run for the swing-set and flipped myself up and over the top of the thing. Don’t worry, I was careful not to impale myself on the bolts that held the swings.) One of my favorite things was the merry-go-round. My family moved several times when I was young, but playgrounds at schools and parks everywhere seemed to have one of those metal merry-go-round-type contraptions. It always seemed to be in motion. I would make a run for it, trying to grab a bar or the hand of a friend so that I could have a ride, too. Sometimes I’d just dash and plop myself on it.

As I seek new performance opportunities, I can’t get the merry-go-round out of my head. I’m running, trying to hop on. It’s frustrating and fun all at once. I think I can reach the hand of my friend and then, no… I miss it. The date gets booked because I wasn’t chained to my computer long enough to send the email response quickly enough. It’s quite a game. In the end, I guess much of life is like trying to catch the merry-go-round. We’re all running for something. Once in awhile, we swing aboard.

Stop by Mel Diva Coffee House in Franklin, MA on July 21st to help me celebrate a tiny merry-go-round victory. Follow the Destinations link to “Live” for details and jump on!


You Never Can Tell—The Final Episode: “The First Seven” meets Instant Karma - July 8, 2006

This was one Cape Cod vacation that I didn’t want to end. From Part One to The Final Episode, the things that happened were so far from what I could ever have imagined that I kept thinking I was dreaming. But… I guess I wasn’t. In this last little tale where you never can tell, “The First Seven” made its way from Oregon to Massachusetts and found its first home on the Cape. I think that has to be the best thing of all.

It looks absolutely amazing! The marvel of Matt Strieby’s artwork on my behalf has been realized and is available to for all to see. The professionalism of Northwest Media is evident and awesome. Despite my extreme satisfaction, however, when it reached me, a mountain loomed. Marketing. The first challenge was that I was still at my hermit’s cottage on Cape Cod when the CD arrived.

Should I have waited for an official CD release? Are there rules for this sort of thing? If I knew the rules, would I care about them anyway? Too many questions without answers make my head hurt. It will come as no surprise to my father that I barged ahead without much regard for protocol.

Our favorite record haunt is a little store called “Instant Karma” in Orleans, MA. We like everything about it and, to top it off, you will not find two nicer people on the planet than Dylan and Robin. In typical fashion, one thing lead to another and—presto—“The First Seven” found itself in very good company. It now rests among the new artists and the old artists, the signed memorabilia and concert T-shirts, the rock and roll postcards and posters. Although I have no idea if I will sell even one copy from this first home, I like that it’s there. I hope you’ll visit Instant Karma if you’re ever on the Cape. I’d love for you to find out in person how wonderful a tiny little record store can be. In the meantime, visit their website from my “Links” destination and take the virtual tour!

So, here I am—at home—moving forward one step at a time. Unpacking. Doing laundry. Thinking about marketing. The next email from CDBaby will tell me “The First Seven” is set up for sale through them in CD form as well as through digital distribution. It boggles my technically simple mind. Anyway, I’ll just have to wait. And that’s okay because I know this one thing: YOU NEVER CAN TELL. It really makes everything a heck of a lot more interesting.

You Never Can Tell—Part Three: Cape Cod Jam - July 7, 2006

No, it isn’t something you eat with peanut butter.

The night before my first Cape Cod Sea Dog performance experience, I sought out the jazz sounds at Mahoney’s restaurant in Orleans, MA. My husband, Bob, would be arriving the next day, followed by the kids and guests. My brief seclusion was ending—as it should.

I asked my waitress about music in the area that night. As luck would have it, Bruce Maclean, a local musician, was in the restaurant. Conversation begun at Mahoney’s was extended when we happened upon one another at the Land-Ho. (Honestly, I’m not the typical bar-hopper. I was just following the music, you see, and for whatever reason, one thing just had to lead to another. I’m sure you believe me, especially if you’re my brother, Randy.) We listened to a band that looked much crazier than they sounded who continued to perform with youthful energy despite the near-empty bar. Bruce introduced me to Steve Rose, the bass player in one of his bands. Fairly soon, it became apparent that we all wanted to play—not listen—and that the only solution to this dilemma was “The Cape Cod Jam.” Let me tell you right now, I have the utmost respect for two musicians who will jam along with my poem/song “Out of the Rain.” Maybe a blonde girl who sang and played guitar was just the diversion they needed. I don’t know. Whatever the case, it was really of no consequence. We had a blast. It all lasted until the wee hours, when Bruce suddenly realized the time. He had to be present at his daughter’s graduation—soon! Oops.

I’ve seen Bruce a number of times since that night, performing with his band, Link Montana, and with another band they call Torn to Shreds. (It sounds scarier than it is.) The day after one of Bruce’s gigs, Bob and I sat with our daughter, Amanda, at the Sparrow. In walked Bruce. He joined us at our table and, within moments, we were well informed regarding the little facts we’d missed the night before. Aside from his wealth of musical knowledge and who’s who, he owns an incredible recording studio and seems to be an artist of many, many talents. You should see him play lead guitar on those surfer songs. If you visit the Cape, find Link Montana! And… if you find Link Montana, remember… you never can tell!

You Never Can Tell—Part Two: The Sea Dog - July 6, 2006

Soon after Jason Kolnos’ article “Cape Wi-Fi hot spots compete with the beach” appeared in the Cape Cod Times Saturday, June 24th edition, I received an email from Tracie at The Sea Dog Restaurant in Eastham, MA. She had seen my name in the newspaper and wanted to let me know that they also had Wi-Fi at The Sea Dog, not to mention acoustic music. No need to drive to Orleans… I was amazed! Back at the Sparrow, checking email, I responded by thanking her and inquiring about informal performance opportunities. Tracie was quick to write back. I was invited to perform a few songs on Friday, June 30th, between the sets of an acoustic duo. WOW! Just like that, one thing leads to another.

That Friday, I experienced the typical challenge of performing in a restaurant/bar setting where many things are happening at once, but it was great, great fun. Bob (from the Cape) and Bob (from Milford, MA) were most gracious, allowing me space during their break. My set was recorded by accident because Cape Cod Bob forgot to turn off his recorder, but he was kind enough to say that he’d send me a CD. If this happens—and IF it sounds good—I will post this version of one of my newer songs—“In the Day”—on the website. No promises, though.

Thanks to Tracie and Gary, I’ll be back at The Sea Dog tonight, performing for the dinner crowd. I’ll look forward to sharing my music, as well as a few select covers, with the families who happen into the restaurant. Among the many things I’m learning as I make my way along this uncharted path is that… you guessed it… you never can tell!

You Never Can Tell—Part One: The Sparrow - July 5, 2006

Life seems to be filled with crazy little happenings. As much as I try to orchestrate the moments of a day, I cannot. I’ve decided to resign myself to living within the framework of my new theory. “You never can tell.” This gives me room to breathe.

I headed for the beach a few days ahead of the family, something I had never done. Somehow, circumstances allowed it. I knew I would enjoy the chance to set things up at the cottage in my own time. When had I ever done that? Also, Life had put a number of musical inspirations on hold—as usual— so I thought perhaps they would make their way out of my head given this opportunity.

People who know me understand that in the course of my daily life, gadgets aren’t my forte. On Cape Cod, I even manage to step a few decades further backward. Essentially, we hibernate. Mail does not get delivered where we stay. There is no television or dishwasher and before cell phones, there was no phone. If you wanted to call someone, you had to drive somewhere and find a pay phone. There’s a broom that’s used to sweep the little cottage. But, this far down the line, I broke all the vacation rules and brought the laptop computer along to monitor my website. I rationalized that with “The First Seven” likely to arrive any day, I needed to stay in touch.

“The Hot Chocolate Sparrow” is a nifty café in Orleans, MA, that’s grown with the technological times. Feeling totally out of my element, I looked at the other people bent over tiny screens with cups of java at hand and sat down at a table. I fumbled through, from “control panel” to “internet options”—no that was wrong—to “network connections” to… I sought the advice of a fellow screen-gazer. In the end, it’s highly likely that some greater power made it all happen. Suddenly, I found myself linked to the world wide web! A moment later, I heard, “May I interrupt you?” Jason, a reporter with the Cape Cod Times, was researching an article about people on vacation who seek out internet cafes. He wanted to know why I was there. I couldn’t believe it. “Well, I just got here and, to be honest, I’ve never done this before.” The poor guy had happened upon the most unlikely subject. But, I gave the interview. He seemed like a nice guy. Besides, he promised to mention my website. Dare I trust the media?

So, of course, every day thereafter I bought a newspaper that I normally would never buy, waiting for the article to appear. When it finally did, my reaction proved to be a mix of delight and “what the %$&#?!!!” Did I really say I was “blonde and pale, so I can’t go outside until late afternoon…?” Did Jason really need to say that I had brought no protection against “screenburn” … what IS that? Silly boy. If he meant “sunburn”, there’s a CVS pharmacy right next to the Sparrow. Or did he mean “screenburn” from the computer screen??? I have no clue. I guess I’m not that hip. Happily, though, he plugged my website and, to my surprise, included a picture. Yes, that’s really me way, way back there in the background, nearly swallowed up by the glare of the Sparrow windows. Now I can say I made the front page of the Times. As long as you don’t ask, “Which Times?” it sounds good, don’t you think? Honestly, you never can tell.

Meet The Doobies! - June 22, 2006

Anyone in the mood for a cute little story? In November of 1978, my husband, Bob, and I went on our first date. After much ado-- a story for another time-- we sat in the third row at a Doobie Brothers concert and watched them work their energetic magic on the college crowd. These many years later, on June 17th, 2006, we were back at The Doobies, a little older, doubtfully wiser. Having befriended the wife of the current Doobies drummer, Ed Toth, Dale Freeman's lovely wife, Andra, was able to score backstage passes for us to meet the band. Bob had the old record albums handy for signing. After those first few awkward moments passed, the conversation flowed. This is what these guys do... they had the sharpies ready. I really don't know if Pat Simmons appreciated the "First Date" story, but he got to hear it anyway. No doubt, he's listened to many like it. At any rate, it was a thrill to meet these long-time, hard-working music makers. Scroll down through my photo gallery to see the pictures taken by Dale and Andra.

Doobies rock!

With Sincere Appreciation - June 4, 2006

Sometimes I feel as though the years have slid past me, creating a space between yesterday and today that will forever keep them apart. I'm quite certain, however, that on THIS night, today managed to pause just long enough for yesterday to catch up. Friends are friends, no matter the time or distance-- and in spite of the clock.

Thanks so much to Lenni and Steve for courageously hosting the wild bunch, for allowing us to keep the kids up too late and-- of course-- for your support. Thanks to Colin for jumping in with both feet and making it really, really fun for me to play. You're the best! To my Queen City Diner comrades, to Stretch, Harry and Carrie-- thanks for listening as I continue to test the waters. By the way-- I know... I know... I KNOW... Bob's not the only one who needs reading glasses. Love you guys!


Awaiting "The First Seven" - May 16, 2006

Working with graphic designer, Matt Strieby, has been an amazing experience. All I can say is, "Wait until you see THIS!" He has drawn color and mood from my music and transformed it into a visual marvel. Matt's intuition leaves me dumbfounded, to be honest. His patience is immeasurable, his talent, mind-boggling and-- on top of it all-- he's great fun! Our collaboration has traveled the many miles from the state of Massachusetts to the state of Washington easily. Artwork for "The First Seven" will be in the hands of Josh at Northwest Media in Portland, Oregon, by the end of the week. CD production may be a new venture for this guitargirl, but I have a feeling it will be an ongoing one as well. After all, I already have the songs for "The Next Seven"... and "The Seven After That..." and... well, you get the idea!


Thoughts on Choate Park - April 30, 2006

If you scroll down through the pictures in my photo gallery, you'll find three new ones that will give you a sense of what I just might call the perfect day. On a lovely, sunny Saturday, I joined my friend, Dale Freeman, as he celebrated the release of his second children's CD, "Let's Go!" To say he was well-received and sincerely appreciated by those lucky enough to be in attendence would be an understatement. I watched the swaying, smiling grandparents that stood behind the families with young children sitting on blankets and thought, "It can't get much better than this." Dale's music for young children carried the day as many wandered from activity table to storyteller to playground to food station, enjoying the ease of the afternoon. I'm sure there were those parents chasing after the little ones that didn't feel particularly relaxed, but it was a festival of sorts and something out of the ordinary. We sat around later, playing random songs on our guitars and got sunburned because there's always one thing you forget to bring... So often, life is one big hustle and bustle. Not so, however, on the day the world was introduced to "Let's Go!"


"The First Seven" - April 23, 2006

Stay tuned, everyone! The encouragement of family and friends has prompted me to pursue official production of my once-upon-a-time promo CD. Cover art for "The First Seven" is being designed by Matt Strieby of Newleaf Design in Battle Ground, WA. It feels like I have a dozen irons in the fire, but it's exciting and fun. I'll keep you posted!

"Let's Go!" with Dale Freeman - April 15, 2006

Dale is a talented jazz guitarist who's preparing for the release of his second children's album, "Let's Go!" His website is a visual feast for the little ones. It's been a privilege for me to play with him. Most recently, my 12-string guitar joined forces with his 6-string in a cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Mansion on the Hill." Of course, I had to add the harmonica as well... It was Dale's idea to cover the Beatles' "When I'm 64" on two ukuleles. I'm still wondering how we pulled that one off! Members of the audience who arrived early caught us piecing it together at the last minute. We traded verses, joined by our friend, Steve Reed, on guitar. As usual, it was great fun. Maybe a bootleg of that show will turn up one of these days! Check out Dale's site from my links destination. Make sure you play games when you get there.

Let's go!

Regarding "Bye Bye Baby" - April 13, 2006

On September 13th, 2003, I was standing among the crazed Bruce Springsteen fans at the FedEx Field in Landover, MD, as he stood alone in the spotlight and began to sing, "I keep a close watch on this heart of mine. I keep my eyes wide open all the time..." Johnny Cash had died the day before. Springsteen chose "I Walk the Line" to create powerful moments that I will always remember. For me, the loss followed on the heels of another. Warren Zevon had lost his battle with lung cancer just days earlier at the age of 56. It was a double-whammy. I wrote "Bye Bye Baby" in what felt like fifteen minutes, looking at a photograph of Warren Zevon. The brooding image was huge, probably half the page, dark with black knit hat and sunglasses, pure Zevon. It had been published by the Boston Globe in August 2003 to promote the album he was trying to make before death had its way with him. Although "Bye Bye Baby" is a tribute of sorts, I guess I consider it more of a consolation to my broken heart. Warren Zevon was a real songwriter. My favorite bootleg recording of a concert he played in Seattle, Washington on Earth Day (2000) reveals an incredible wit, courage and style that could only be his own. He used to say, "Life'll kill ya." You know, somehow I just don't think so...

Thank you! - April 12, 2006

Thanks, everyone, for your kind words and encouragement! I've added a few things today-- one is a live version of a song I wrote for my daughters, amazing opera singers that they are. I'll tell you more about the song another time, but suffice it to say that although it sounds a bit like an Irish drinking song... Hidey-aye-aye-a... it isn't! Thanks, all!


Ronda on the Web - April 11, 2006

Welcome to all that's just getting started as Ronda attempts to drag herself toward technological competence. It's a tall order, but also an exciting challenge. Wish me luck!
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