Tuesday, May 28, 2013

TPG Concert

So a couple of weeks ago, Jon Schmidt (the pianist of The Piano Guys) arranged tickets for Will and I to attend their Thursday Seattle concert. 

The backstory to this is several years ago I connected with Jon when he was still a solo pianist. I had invited him to come to Seattle and perform in a summer outdoor concert that I was trying to put together with several other artists. However, I ended up getting pregnant and decided to not pursue doing the concert due to, well, loads of reasons. So it never happened.

To back up EVEN further, Will and I had attended one of Jon's concerts in Portland many years ago. This was right around the time when I had just started composing music of my own. At the time, I didn't get a chance to meet him due to all of the fans lined up to talk to him after his concert. And I was much too shy to introduce myself.

So that would be twice that I did not get to meet Jon. 

A few months ago, however, I connected with him again via email. I told him that I knew he was coming to Seattle in May and really wanted to finally meet him in person but the show was sold out, but nevertheless, I at least wanted to touch base over email.

He wrote back and said he had actually gone and watched my album trailer, listened to my music and more and was completely blown away. He complimented my classical technique and to quote, said I was a "legit artist". That of course made me feel very good and I smiled really big. He said he would actually check to see if he could get me tickets to one of their sold out shows.

A few weeks went by, and I released my "Requiem For a Tower" video. Being that The Piano Guys are all about their music videos, I sent the link to my video to Jon so that he could watch it. Again, he said he was amazed and blown away and just loved it, especially the music. And then he also said he was able to get 2 tickets to his Thurs Seattle show, and to please also come backstage afterwards to meet him and the guys. He said if there was a lot of people to flag him down and he would let us cut to the front because we were his "special guests".

The concert was absolutely amazing. Those guys are not only extremely talented with their musical gifts, but they are very entertaining and funny. My cheeks hurt so bad from laughing and smiling so much, I had to grab them and pull them down to get me to stop smiling to relax my face muscles. I'm not kidding. 

After the concert was over, they invited the entire audience to meet them up on the mezzanine and they would sign cds up there. If you can imagine hundreds of people rushing to head upstairs and a line that was several hundreds of people long. Will told me to grab one of the security guards to go backstage, since I was invited. I'm not a very forward person and so I was like "Are we even allowed to??". But we went ahead and asked permission to go backstage because we were "special guests", and we were allowed back there. 

Jon saw us come back and instantly came over and said "Jennifer!" and gave me a huge hug and also shook Will's hand. The rest of The Piano Guys were back there as well and he said "Everyone, THIS is Jennifer Thomas and she is an AMAZING pianist and she even beat us on the UK charts." Of course I was totally embarrassed because that was entirely NOT true. I have not beaten them on the UK charts, but I think what he meant was that I was the Female Artist of the Year on Classical Crossover UK for 2012. Either way, he kept going on and ON and ON about me and my music, even saying that he was completely starstruck by me.

You can imagine, that during the entire concert I was sitting there trying to think of what I would say to these guys in the very small amount of time I knew I would have. But once I got backstage and Jon was complimenting me and bragging about me, I completely forgot what I wanted to say and felt really dumb and fumbled over my words. It didn't matter though because they were all so incredibly gracious and nice and so friendly.

I gave them a gift of NW smoked salmon, a symphony chocolate bar, a card (with a piano on it of course), and then 2 copies of my cd "Illumination". I did not want to come off as seeming self-promoting or anything and so I admit I felt very awkward giving them my CD. But later on I heard that the guys were fighting over the chocolate bar and totally just loved the gift.

A few days later, I was lucky enough to attend a fireside where Jon was the main speaker/performer. His son happens to be serving a full time mission in my dad's mission area (where he is the stake president), and the fireside was being held at his particular church building....and so I got front row reserved seats. :)

Jon was up towards the front of the chapel before the fireside, chatting with various people and when he saw me, he smiled and immediately came over to talk to me and meet my parents. Again, SO incredibly gracious, friendly, kind. He took my hand and told me how much the gift and the card and what I had said meant to him and how much he appreciated it. I wanted to say so much more to him, but again found myself feeling rather dumb and just saying "Thank you" and other lame things.

The crazy thing, was during his talk (in which there were about 800 people in attendance), he TWICE mentioned me. The first time he was talking about how each of us can have a relationship with God and he compared it to having friends with similar interests. He looked right over at me and told everyone how he knew he could "talk with Jennifer about music, because she is in the music business and we just GET each other and can talk about it" and he went on about that for a while. A bit later, after he performed "All of Me", a song in which he uses his forearms to slam the black keys and really makes the audience laugh, I had a huge smile on my face because I was just loving his performance. After the song, he looked at me and saw me laughing and smiling and he stopped before continuing with the rest of his talk, and said "I just have to stop and say, if you all have not heard Jennifer's music, you really need to. Jennifer Thomas, an incredibly pianist and composer, you need to look her up." And he went ON longer than that, but I was totally sitting there turning COMPLETELY red as the entire audience turned their heads to look at me. I had to take my hand and cover my face because I was dying LOL. Don't get me wrong, I was incredibly flattered and completely humbled that he did that, it made me feel SO beyond honored to know he loves my music.....but I was just so embarrassed hahaha.

So there you have it. My story about meeting The Piano Guys, and Jon Schmidt. It would be amazing to someday do some music with them, but if anything I am just truly grateful for the experience and meeting them, and to feel the positive vibes and inspiration through their own music. :) I have so many people who email me and tell me that my music inspires them, or makes them want to practice more, etc.....It is the nicest thing to hear, but I don't really KNOW how they feel.  I don't experience that with my own music, but I DID experience that very much so with Jon's music this past week, and so I now have a sense of what it feels like to be completely uplifted and inspired by someone else's music. I definitely feel a much higher calling and duty to those who say this to me now, to be sure I always try to create music that uplifts.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Livin' the Dream: Month in Review

I feel very terrible that my posts lately seem to be only about once a month.  And therefore, what I end up doing is playing MAJOR catch-up about what we've been up to.  It's either a super long blog, or a dozen tiny ones and honesty I'd rather just cram it all into one.

So if you're up for a review of the last month, read on...

April 3, 2013 - Rattlesnake Lake with da boys!

This lake is just 2 minutes from our house....we packed a picnic and then had a nice walk.

April 21, 2013 - Space Needle Girls Night with my Mom

My mom and I had a much-needed girls night and went to a nice dinner at the Space Needle, where we were able to chat about some things and enjoy time together.

I've been wanting to eat at the Space Needle for a loooooong time, but it's mega expensive.  Will was a generous husband and let me splurge on our girls night :)

Yes, that is a bacon bourbon brownie. No it was not as weird as you think.

April 28th - Indie Music Channel Awards, Los Angeles, CA

I went to LA for a weekend for the IMC Awards, as well as some work projects.  It was a busy weekend, but worthwhile.  I actually won 8 awards at this crazy awards show!  Including Album of the Year, and Artist of the Year.  I was not expecting that.....in fact I was ready to go towards the end of the night when they were getting to the big awards and listing off the huge list of nominees and producers. I thought there is no way I will win, as a classical artist I just can't compete with people in the pop, country, rock genres, etc......so you can imagine my utter shock when I heard them call my name.

My friend, filmmaker Ryan McNeal was my "plus-one" for the evening, and did a fabulous job holding my purse and my awards. He got lots of compliments on the purse, by the way. Haha.

With the founder of IMC at the awards reception the afternoon before the awards...

After I parked my rental car to head to the awards reception, my very nice Michael Kors sandles completey busted right there.  I had to go across the street to Rite Aid and buy some flip flops and throw the others out.  Here they are. $7 baby.  And I dare say, I much preferred wearing these ones anyway. ;)

Spent time with the guys editing my Requiem music video....

 Justus, my video producer.  Great guy.

 Oh my gosh this is me saying QUIT TAKING PICTURES OF ME, I'M DONE. Can I go home now?

Eric, an additional producer on my music video.

Out of order -but view of Seattle on the plane ride home....

Getting a tutorial from Ryan in DaVinci Color Grading...

I was lucky to find some time to visit the LA temple grounds while I was there. Totally the best part of my trip hands down.  To get away from "Hollywood", very nice.

Oh, out of order again, but me with "morning-after awards show hair". Lovely.  Keepin' it real.

Oh goodness, could these be any more out of order.  More from the awards. Here's me doing a mirror check in the bathroom at the Hollywood House of Blues!

Where they ended up. Preston asked me "Mom, what are those?"

I said: "They are trophies for my music."

He said, "No those aren't trophies because they don't have handles."  Because, ya know, in Disney Cars the Piston Cup Tropies have handles ;)

While in LA, I had lunch with my friend and fellow composer Jo Blankenburg.  He's the composer who wrote the music for the Harry Potter, The Hobbit, and many other big movie trailers. Epic music, very talented and a great guy.  Intense conversation with his German accent over Vegan cuisine in LA.

I also had lunch with my friend and fellow composer Christopher Tin.  He has two Grammy awards for the Classical Crossover category and we know each other from the Recording Academy/Grammy stuff.  Really fun guy - introduced me to Korean BBQ, which was interesting! 

Meanwhile....back at home....the boys were having their own set of adventures with Dad in charge.

Let me just interrupt these photos to say, I browsed these on Facebook while I was in LA and was like "Oh that's cool, Will took the boys on a hike"....until I saw THIS picture!....

He took them on a very forbidden hike that he knows he wasn't supposed to take them on.  See that ledge? 


BIG NO-NO.  He was in so much trouble.

Even worse, after I returned home, Preston kept telling me about the hike they went on, and I would say "Did Papa hold your hand?" and he said "No, I just walked around, but don't worry, I wasn't too close to the scary edge".

I about had a heart attack.

Their reward for hiking 5 miles....

This photo tore at my heartstrings too when I saw it while I was in LA....look at that face. He is soooo beyond tired....

 All righty!  Bored yet? Because there's still more!!!! :)

My welcoming home party at the airport!  Soooooo nice!!  Preston was so excited to ride the "train"

It's super cute that Will had them all in their PJ's with their hair done all nice to greet me :) I love my men.

After LA....

I just wanted to spend time with my boys.  So we played Sheriff Woody...

Also enjoyed the really nice sunny Seattle weather and played in the water in our front yard...

And then went to the waterfall to get ice cream of course!

And lest we forget the train station??  And cookies too?

Will and I also had a date night to a piano concert of my friend David Nevue...

With David....

We also went for a lovely Sunday afternoon picnic after church....it was soooooo nice out.  We had sandwiches and looked at waterfalls and went for a short easy hike on a trail.  We had so much fun together. I LOVE my family!

 Somebody was so tired in the car.....

We also had some cousin time so that James and Elizabeth could get some painting done on their new house...

I finally replaced our fireplace mantle picture with an updated family photo and new frame.....it's a bit smaller than the last one (that took up the entire wall), so now we have lots of room to eventually add more photos around this one.

Somewhere in there I also had food poisoning and was sick for 36 hours.....blah!

I knew we were gearing up to be out of town again, and so the day before we left I spent some time with the boys at the park, making sure I got lots of hugs/kisses and mommy/son time!

And then we dropped them off at Grandma and Grandpa's house for 5 days while we took off to New Orleans....

May 11 - 2013 - ZMR Awards, New Orleans, LA

Neither Will or I had ever been to NOLA before, and so even though we took a red-eye all night to get there, we first spent some time driving around the French Quarter exploring...

I can't say New Orleans made me feel super safe.  It was kind of a dirty little town. There were even some shootings while we were there. I did not feel safe even standing in front of the theater where our awards show was.  BUT that is not important.

The important thing is we finally got a NAP after our red-eye flight....

Later that night...

Thanks to my amazing friend Noelle for sending me the idea for the hair style, as I was completely clueless as to what to do with it.  Here you can see where I got the idea from...

Ok, so then we went to the awards. Will totally forgot to bring a tie with him on the trip. We even stopped at Walmart to buy him one, but was astonished to find their tie selection had not improved since 1992.

So he went tie-less...but still cute :)

Ok so who are these people.....

This is Marc Enfroy, another amazing musician who I had the pleasure of being a nominee with for "Best Neo-Classical Album of the Year".  Marc's music reminds me a lot of Tim Janis's music if you are familiar with him....

Just so you know, this dress was completely modest and that is not really my bra.  The dress was lined and it was an "effect" under the lace. Not that you care, but just in case.

This is Damon Buxton, a guitarist.  He gave me the absolute sweetest compliment that night. He told me "Your music is like a whole wall of angels hitting me".  That made me blush and it was so nice.  

This is Will and I in our car after the awards totally ready to go get some food at Denny's at 2am!

Oh this is me with Bill Binkelman who is a music critic. Really nice guy.

Me outside the Joy Theater in downtown New Orleans...

I'm only posting this goofy one so Noelle can see how I did my makeup...I found the most amazing false lashes, by the way, by Revlon.


So after the awards show (I did not win, by the way), we spent the next day driving around and exploring Louisianna. I can't tell you how good it was to get out of that dirty city and see some more beautiful areas.

We ended up going to Oak Alley Plantation, which seriously was the best thing we'd done so far!  So pretty, romantic, charming.....

What vacation report would be complete without some selfies?

And here is me on the phone with my boys on Mother's Day...oh how I missed them! It was so sweet to talk to them.  My dad told me that in church, they were passing around Mother's Day treats for all the moms. Preston looked very sad and went up to him and said "Can I have one for my mom?".  And when we got back home he was so excited to give it to me :) SUCH a sweet kid that Preston. Love him.

After Louisianna, we boarded a flight which took us to Houston and THEN to Tampa.  My little brother and his wife and two adorable girls live in Tampa. We hadn't seen them in about 4 years because his wife hates to fly anywhere.  So it was really fun seeing them again...here are some photos from our time in Tampa.  

My adorable niece, Abby, attacking that sundae!

I was really missing the ocean, so it was really nice to smell the salty sea air again. :)

Before this trip, I had been working insanely hard at the gym and eating a very clean diet. It was really a shock to my system to be in the South where fried-food was the big thing, and the locals were just all about their food.  I came back feeling like a beached whale - haha!

We spent a lot of time trying to find food.  The first day we were there I tried very hard to keep to my healthy ways, but found it almost impossible to find healthy options at most restaurants.  I was kind of surprised.  Most places had an itty-bitty healthy portion of the menu (which did not look good).  Most all of "seafood" seemed to be some cruel trick - where it was fried catfish, shrimp, oysters and even alligator!

It was REALLY nice to get back to Seattle to the land of normal seafood :)

Anyway, we're back at home now.

Here is what our cute boys were up to at G&G's house while we were away....they got so spoiled! They LOVE going to their house.

In other news, I did a radio interview for One Voice from Africa. If you care to listen here is the link:

I also just released my first debut music video. I would love for you to see it -here it is:

Hopeully it won't be another entire month before I blog again.  Next on our list is painting the exterior of our house Memorial day weekend.  wish us luck!