Jill "xtingu" Knapp

Traveling musician. Singer. Road warrior in bursts. Dork. Easy to spot. Gauche eyeshadow fan. Unreasonably happy.

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Hi, all!

It's been forever since I've posted here, though I have about 98734 drafts just none of them finished.  I'll summarize the last month with a listo:

  • Beatlefest (wow, a month ago) was one of the most musically satisfying things I've ever done, tribute-wise.  The band Joe hired was full of some of the best musicians I've had the pleasure to work with here. Everyone has extensive musical training and reads music like a motherfucker... you needed those skills if you were gonna get through 215 songs... yet they also had rock chops so we knew how to feel an ending that just fades out on the record.  There were times we had 40 musicians on stage which includes string a section, a horn section... we also had musicians who specialized in Indian instruments.  There was one instrument that pretty much nobody in north America plays called a Dilruba, so we flew my dear friend Stefan in from Arizona to approximate the part using a hurdy gurdy.  Stefan was the real MVP.  We have dates for Beatlefest 2019 already, and FINALLY the City of Wilmingon sees this as the lucrative, exciting thing that it is and will be putting their marketing hype behind it next year, making Beatlefest a destination with hotel deals and stuff.  It was nice that we sold out the last 3 nights of the six-night run, and we all made a really nice chunk of change. (This is unusual for these tribute shows... usually we make a few hundred bucks, but this was quite nice, especially considering that we'd been rehearsing since January.)
  • Through the hype of Beatlefest, I didn't really notice how anemic I was getting... adrenaline is a hell of a chemical.  The following week we had Hot Breakfast's 8th Annnual Summer Blowout at the Bellefonte Cafe (which was sold out 3 days before the event-- yay!) and I kinda noticed I was having a hard time singing medium-length phrases, but again, I just pushed it aside because adrenaline.
  • The thing with anemia (or at least my anemia-- my hematologists insists I'm weird for this) is that I'm able to hit "snooze" on the Iron Alarm when there are more pressing things in front of me... so Beatlefest, Hot Breakfast show... caring for my Mom for a week... being in NJ for Sunnyvale rehearsals... and then BAM, I was almost dead. 
  • So yeah... I put myself in the hospital for 5 days because I got too damn anemic.  That was last week.  I was gonna go for iron anyway because I would never go to Burning Man without being freshly ironed-up... but still.  Damn.   It also turns out that there's a manufacturer's shortage of my usual iron preparation, Iron Dextran, which is normally a 6-hour infusion when I'm not so low I'm a fuckface, so I had to do a 5-day infusion of this other formulation anyway.  
  • SO!  BURNING MAN!  After a 7-year hiatus, we are headed back to The Thing In The Desert. We leave for the airport in a few hours, and we'll be in Reno getting supplies tomorrow (Friday), and then Saturday we will head out to the playa.  We have Early Access Passes which normally I don't really care about, but with the city having 70,000 people in it, I'm happy to get out a day early so we can beat some of the line at the gate.  We will be there (assuming all goes well) until Labor Day Monday. We'll head back to Reno on Labor Day, clean the car on Tuesday, and then fly home early on Wednesday the 5th.  So we will be totally incommunicado from Saturday August 25 - Monday September 3rd.  Yes, I know that Katy Perry updates her Instagram from the playa and that there is scant wifi if you look hard enough, but I am not going to do that. The phone stays in the car, which stays locked for a week.
  • Matt is very excited to be heading back out there, too... this will be his 2nd burn, and my 8th.  I'm a little worried about his anxiety, but we have a nice, newish trailer, so if he gets squoodgy, we can just hang there where it's comfy.
  • We were in NJ for a week (before my iron infusion) and my dad was out to breakfast and my mom fell.  It was a huge deal, and Matt and I managed to get her back up after her being on the floor for 90-ish minutes.  I wrote a long OPW post about it, but haven't posted it yet because I didn't finish it. But she was trapped on the floor and it was awful, and she was basically suffocating because she didn't have her oxygen.  More on this later.
  • My mom's mobility is seriously hindered and her body has basically told her to fuck off.  Her biggest pain is her knee, and she's not allowed to take any pain medication (not even Advil or other NSAIDS) because of all the other medications she's on.  My mom was supposed to have her knee fixed on Monday at a surgicenter, but once she got there, the anesthesiologist was like "Um, your heart is A-Fib, your lungs don't work from emphysema, you need supplemental oxygen... I can't believe anyone thought we could accomodate your surgery here.  We can't.  Go home, and we'll do it at the hospital where I have more ways of keeping you alive, yo."  So she was VERY disappointed... but I admit I was kinda relieved because she would have been recovering while we were at Burning Man and unable to give my dad a hand.  We want to be up there with her during and after the surgery... my dad can't handle it all.
  • Life continues to be happy. I'm in a much better place mentally than I was 2 weeks ago-- I was feeling really dark and angry and sad and frustrated and overwhelmed and unable to cope... and in retrospect this was probably because my iron was so low.  
  • Please don't give me crap about ignoring my iron. I know. I know. It won't happen again, Mom. :-)

OK, that's all I can think of for now.  There's more to write, but no time... I need to get in the shower... our ride to the airport comes in less than 3 hours and I still have to throw together a few more things. 

I love you all, and I hope you have a spiffy few weeks!

xoxo,

Jill-o

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8/23 '18 7 Comments
Happy trails! At least one other friend of mine, in a completely different and non-Philadel circle, has just left Reno. If you run in to a big ex-Air Force guy wearing Philadelphia Brewing (http://philadelphiabrewing.com/) or Fishtown-related swag, or maybe a Mummer costume, his name is Steve and it would be hilarious if you ran into each other.

I know the city grows to 70,000 people. But things happen at Burning Man.
Michele Grant 8/23 '18
It's better to burn out than fade away, as the poet says.
Thomas Boutell 8/23 '18
I just read about the crazy searches being done by law enforcement on vehicles headed to the playa. Officials are claiming they're only making regular traffic stops (speeding, stop sign roll throughs, tail lights out, etc.) but are apparently making random and frequent stops, then bringing out the drug sniffing dogs and requiring vehicles be unpacked on the side of the road. It sounds like they may even be making a grab for people's prescription drugs? Not sure. With 70K people going this year, I can't even begin to picture the mess this will be. Stay safe. <3
Anne Mollo 8/23 '18edited
It's only a matter of time before people starting landing light aircraft on the playa. Capitalism will find a way to meet a demand.
Ray Conrad 8/24 '18
They have their own airport-- there have been direct flights to the playa for a while. You're totally right!
I notice that you didn't give out your snail mail address for the burn this year. #JillCanLearn #IAmDisappoint
Ray Conrad 8/24 '18
No, it's not that... it's that they don't accept incoming mail anymore as of 2015. BRC post office is outbound-only. Once the event grew to 70K it just got to be too much, I imagine.

Or maybe they didn't want to earworm an entire damn event. :-D
 

I was in Wisconsin for 24 hours on Sunday into Monday-- Racine, to be exact.  My hotel was right on the bank of Lake Michigan, which is surprisingly blue... like Caribbean blue. 

Racine is like Wilmington in that it was probably a sad, falling-down place for decades until someone decided to throw a ton of money at it, and now it has a super-cute main drag, similar in vibe to Market Street in Wilmington, or maybe more specifically the Riverfront. Lots of shops, eateries, businesses, parking, people walking around, all that. And it's CUTE. 

Even th Milwaukee airport is adorable, mostly because of the people in it. Everyone is soooo friendly, inclusive, soft-spoken, quick to smile and say hello. Where the Philly airport (and every other airport) is LOUD with announcements, machinery, moving walkways, beeping carts, cops on Segways, yelling kids, and families whose default vocal conversation volume is SCREAMING, it's easy to get numb to the noise.  But Milwaukee is quiet. 


Always Get a Shoe Shine

I forget where I read it, but someone said in their list of life tips to "Always get a shoe shine by the old guy in the airport."

I may have only gotten two or three shoe shines in my life, and they were awesome, and my shoes appreciated it.   Two weeks ago I wanted to wear my ancient Doc Martens to work and Matt offered to shine them up, and I took him up on it. They look great! What a difference!  I bought those 10-eye black Doc boots from Buffalo Exchange (used!) in 1996 or so... so they're at least 21 years old. (My boots can drink!) After Matt got done shining them up, they look like new damn boots! I can't believe it!  I really need new soles though-- they are worn flat to the point where they are slippery and absolutely unwearable in the wintertime. 

ANYWAY, this post is not about my Doc Martens though, but instead about me getting a shoe shine in the Milwaukee airport right after I landed, shining a totally different pair of boots. My flight landed around 1pm, and it was gonna be about a 30 minute drive to Racine and I figured there was a good chance my hotel room wouldn't be ready for me by the time I showed up at 1:30, so I tried to take my time. As I wandered through the almost empty airport, I saw a shoeshine guy on the out-side of security... which seemed strange, but OK.  The shoeshine guy had a TV in his booth and he was watching the game, and I felt bad for interrupting him, but he invited me in.  As soon as he invited me in, I could tell something was slightly off... but I didn't care. He cheerfully and eagerly invited me in, and I was gonna stay. 

The old guy, probably in his 60s, looked much older. He was very shaky, couldn't speak clearly... but he managed to say that he had just had a stroke and was just coming back to work. In a moment, his son appeared and took over the reins, somewhat embarrassed for his dad. Once I assured the son that I was comfy with Dad and was happy to be there, the three of us had a great time. We talked about the stroke a little bit, and how Dad couldn't bear to stay cooped up in the nursing home with "people with no purpose no more."  He was a shoe-shiner, and he took his craft seriously... it was his life's work. Even though he couldn't wield the tools as adeptly anymore, his son helped out when he needed to, and they managed to give me a great freakin' shoe-shine in 30 minutes... and a great chat. We talked about traveling, weather, the 24-hours news cycle and how it's killing the country, and food that is unique to this side of Wisconsin. 

After 30 minutes of intensive work, they charged me $12 for the shoe-shine, and I gave them $40. 

My boots look damn fiiiiine, and my heart feels good, too. 


Swingin'...

In other news entirely, my favorite lunch spot in Philly is 30th Street Station, outside on the swings.  I get a cup of coffee and a bagel and/or a sammich/salad from one of the many shoppes inside, and plop my arse on a swing and all is right with the world.

They have two different types of swings-- one where your feet can touch the ground, and ones that are more like giant recliners where your legs are totally off the ground. So today there were people sitting on the big recliner swings, but their swing had stopped swinging... and since their feet can't touch the ground, they have no way to swing again. So as I walked by them, I gave them each a push and they both smiled and laughed. It made my day. :-)

Shut up and post this, Jill

Anyway, I think I'm just gonna post this, otherwise I'll just drag it out, adding letters but saying nothing. So... post!

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11/2 '17 4 Comments
Shoe shining/repair is something of a rare art these days. If you have a good shoe repair shop around you, it is always an awesome thing to have soles replaced. Between that and a shine, it's like insta-new-shoe! Poof! Plus, then your footwear lasts foreeeeeever. I have a pair of boots over 30 years old and a pair of dress heels over 25. My shoes aren't *quite* old enough to be your Doc's mom, but I bet they babysat 'em on Friday nights.
Anne Mollo 11/2 '17
There are two "shoe guys" in town, and one is in the mall of all places, and they are craaaaazy-busy. I've brought boots to them that had broken zippers and stuff, and they replaced 'em as good as new. But I've never had soles replaced.

Doc Martens have such specific soles, and I don't know if they have Doc Marten soles. But then again, I'm not sure how mega-important genuine Doc Martens soles are. As long as they look and feel right, I suppose that's what's important. Besides, I've been walking around on worn-down soles for so long, so I don't know if if I'd know the difference. Maybe I'll bring them over.
Okay, yes, I might be a bit biased, but I swear to Christ, Lucifer, and everyone in between that I would read the shit out of a book of collected blog posts by you chica. Just something about the way I feel the life moments in your posts. It's really fine stuff.

And now I'm having a mental image of you, talking about you, and saying "She just... Gets It. You know? She's our people."
Awwwww, thanks! I love writing. I know my writing needs a lot of work, but it's good for my soul. It makes me really happy that you like reading my brain pickinz. ;)
 

Opening night of Lizzie (Friday night) went very very very well. I felt great. We all did. The band is AMAZING.

The show's run had been rescheduled several million times and we had agreed to play the Kennett Square Mushroom Festival which happened today... but that was before this weekend became opening weekend for Lizzie with a show the night before and a sold-out show the evening of this afternoon gig.  I praise the baby jesus every day that I have vocal cords of steel... and our one-hour set from 12:30-1:30pm went swimmingly (with a special super bonus visit from Tom and Roxanne! Wheeee!), and didn't affect my evening performance at all. Yay.

We went directly home and took naps and slept super-hard for a few hours, and were ready to rock tonight's Lizzie production. Did I mention it was sold-out? And WHEEE #2, we had special PhilaDel representation by Lindsay, Shellebot and Archerbot (how is he 6 feet tall?!), Jermatron, and sadly Laura's back couldn't tolerate the uncomfortable seats so she bailed at intermission. But I didn't even see them in the audience until the end of the 2nd act, but I was happy to spy them.  Got lots of huge love from friends and strangers, which felt really nice. I am really enjoying the show now, and it's an honor to be a part of it.

I have a vague recollection of someone on OPW asking to crash on my couch so they could come see the show, but I'm having a brain-fart as to who that was.  If it was you, please remind me!  I don't know about letting you crash on my couch only because I'm a shitty person on show days with my head solely focused on the show and nothing else, and I don't wanna worry about being a good hostess or having a clean house or being on good behavior, but I'd be happy to give you my Hilton points and get you a hotel. :)  And maybe you could go on a night when other OPW pals are going so they can be your chaperone.  Just a thought!

Anyway, I cannot express to you the relief that I feel now that we've opened and the show is rockin'.  

I am already starting to get sad that we only have five more performances.

A billion thanks to everyone listening to me bitch about the process, and a billion more thanks to everyone who came to see it and/or who is planning to come see it. I'm really proud of what we've done.

OK, must sleep now so I'm ready for our single matinee of the run.

Xoxo,

Jill-oooo

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9/10 '17 17 Comments
I'm thrilled that it's all going so well!! Yay!!!

It was me, mentioning your couch--but I was joking that that was probably the only way we'd ever get to meet in person, so you can totally relax. Plus I can't even make it to the show. BOO.

But YAY you!
Anne Mollo 9/10 '17
Gaaah! And it all comes back to me now. I'm sorry I was a shit friend in theory. :-) Now that things are ducky you could move in, if you'd like. :-)

Anyhoo, we have to figure out a way to meet somehow. Scheming!

I feel like a boom-de-yada is in order!
Sean M Puckett 9/10 '17
Yaaaaaay!!!
Jillbot to maximum power!
Thomas Boutell 9/10 '17
ACTIVATE!
I love my Jill Knapp
Her vocal cords of steel
I love her hard naps
Love how she keeps it real
Boom de yada boom de yada boom de yada boom de yada

I love the Lizzie
I love the CTC
I love the rockin' band
I love hard tragedy
Boom de yada boom de yada boom de yada boom de yada

I love a great show
seeing it with my buds
I love hard theatre
Hot voices, lots of blood
Boom de yada boom de yada boom de yada boom de yada...
Lindsay Harris Friel 9/10 '17edited
dancing-banana.gif
Sean M Puckett 9/10 '17
Can I tattoo this on my arm, please?

Oh how I love you. :)
FWIW: I hope you get to keep that jacket. That's a good gig jacket.
I never would have picked that jacket out in a zillion years, but as soon as it was presented to me, I am all "Oooooooooh."

I have no fashion sense.
If I had a tenth of L's fashion sense....
Way to go rock star! Proud of you! In other news, the sun will rise tomorrow. ;)
Nnddaaaaaw. :)

Really wish you could beam yourself here!
I checked with Kevin and he's a no go. PLEASE let me know if anyone pirates a video.

WHICH NO ONE INVOLVED WITH THAT PLACE WOULD EVER DO !!! (For the record.)

Seriously. I seriously just wanna see/hear you ladies in this show. :(
Seriously.
Yeah, you do. It is a-fucking-mazing. I would take a video for you, but I am hopeless with video recording equipment and you'd get a bunch of hard-rockin' static.
 

HOLY  CRAP, the Southwest Air Eclipse Flight was awesome awesome awesome. Just so much fun! 

After we deplaned, a news crew from Channel 11 Alive Atlanta was interviewing people about their experience, and since I'm a whore, I jumped in front of the camera. Apparently I'm gonna be on the Atlanta news. Woot!

So if you watch this video, that's me at 1:36 in my ITMFA shirt kvelling. :-) 


The Channel 11 folks also asked us to write up our experience and email it to them with photos, so here's what I sent.

_____________________

Hi, Julie and crew!

I'm the Jill Knapp that Matt mentioned in his first email. I believe someone from your station grabbed a quick interview with me when we landed in Atlanta. (I have the spiky platinum-blonde hair with the blue streak and the big smile.)

We've attached some photos for you. 

We are an acoustic dork-rock duo from Wilmington, Delaware called "Hot Breakfast!", and we fly Southwest exclusively because of our earned Companion Pass status on the airline. (Companion Pass status allows us to perform all around the country in a buy-one-get-one-free arrangement, reserved for their most frequent flyers.)  

When we heard this flight was happening, we jumped on it specifically to see the eclipse from above the clouds!

Boarding the flight was super-fun-- the plane was decorated with a disco ball and colorful streamers, and the flight attendants were all dressed up with glittery wigs, glow glasses, alien antennae ("deely-boppers" for those of us '80s kids), and the pilot was able to bank the plane several times to let both sides of the plane get great views. Matt and I sat in the "LUV Seat," which is the exit row with only two seats in the row, so we had room to crouch down low by the window to see the eclipse, and we encouraged other passengers to jump in our row to get the great view, too! 

The vibe on the plane was so friendly, fun, enthusiastic. The Southwest flight attendants are always top-notch, but they went above and beyond today with custom eclipse-themed cocktails, eclipse and space trivia games, and glow-bracelets for everyone, and plenty of jokes and smiles. 

Sometimes the news will make you think that everyone is angry and there's no happiness in the world (and especially in our country). But this flight made me remember that people are almost all wonderful, curious, and fun. I admit, I needed this. :-)

This flight was absolutely everything we hoped it would be and more. 

Thanks for letting us report in!

Our very best,

Jill and Matt

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8/21 '17 12 Comments
\o/!

Were you laid over in ATL, or are you here-here?
Rabbit 8/22 '17
Just a layover for about 90 minutes, and during that time we had to get our bags from baggage claim and re-check in, due to some creative flight scheduling on my part. But we made our next flight with about 10 minutes to spare! Wooot!
Whatever they offer you ... don't feed the plants!
That soundtrack has been in my brain for a week now... and I am not complaining even a little. (It's mah favorite show EVAR.)
Of course it has, because it starts with a TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN! I need you and Matt C in my life to grok my Little Shop jokes ... and Jerm, but he is not on OPW.
My little Audrey II insisted on nursing for most of it.
Rabbit 8/23 '17
Feed me, Mama, feed me all night long. That's right!
May I touch the hem of your garment?
Thomas Boutell 8/22 '17
Mais oui!
Just watched the video - you look SO geeked out happy! Eeeee!
that's so awesome!!!! so how did you even hear about this flight -- did the airline send out a blasto to their elite passengers or something? :)
Jenn A 8/24 '17
excellent! so jealous...
Kate Haney 8/25 '17
 

I am jealous of Thomas Boutell ​​​​​​'s fancy bullets he used in an earlier post. I don't know if my bullets here will be as pretty and diamondy as his. Let us try in a listo!

  • Last night (Thursday May 25th) was a bittersweet night... about 73 million musicians and singers and players* played over 6 hours of music in a huge, free concert on both stages as we said goodbye and thank you to World Cafe Live at the Queen in Wilmington. World Cafe Live pulled out of The Queen because it was bleeding money despite all their efforts to keep it in the black, and last night was officially the venue's last night, so all of the bands that were known to be Queen favorites were on the bill and we threw a Thank You and Goodbye show to give the venue we love a royal sendoff.
  1. With that many bands and players/singers, there was no way to give everyone their own time slot; so we created these giant "supergroups." For example, Matt and I told everyone they could use our saxophone-playing skills -- so two bands (Shytown and Vinyl Shockley) took us up on that as we bulked up their horn section -- we played one song with each of those two bands -- easy peasy.  And then The Joe Trainor Trio became JTTwelve (!) because Joe added a sweeeeeeet five-member horn section, he added a guitarist, and three women on backing vocals, so Matt played sax for that, and I sang backing vocals. 
  2. We were sent the charts for the two songs ahead of time, so Matt and I had time to rehearse them at home. But last night once we arrived and met the two other horn players for Shytown and Vinyl Shockley, they handed us a stack of music for a bunch of other songs and said, "Just watch us for cues," and away we went! Sight-read it on stage, no time to play through anything before we went on. I LOVE THAT.  And to sweeten the deal, these guys would even throw in the occasional "horn section moves" which were a blast... nothing too nuts... but every once in a while we'd do an intuitive choreographed "pop" and it looked cool as shit.  It felt SO GOOD to just jump in, feel trusted by strangers, trust them as well, connect into their neural network and be a horn section.  God, I love being a musician.

It was a magical, bittersweet night... and I'm so happy to be part of the World Cafe Live community.  

(And I'm also very happy to hear that we now have an "in" with LiveNation... but that's a topic for a different day.)

[Edited to add on Saturday: The muscles/tendons in my left forearm that control my left pinky (The G# key, as well as all the sub-C notes on a sax) is nice and sore, as are my hands and the muscles in my neck. I friggin' LOVE playing Moose (my tenor sax) but lorrrrdy these hands hurt afterwards. Totally worth it, though!]


---------

* There is an important difference between a singer, a player, and a musician.  Just because you can carry a tune or play an instrument does NOT mean you are a musician. Can you arrange a song? Can you tell me what a diminished chord is? Can you tell me the difference between dorian and mixolydian modes? Could you music direct a show? Could you write the parts out for all of these other instruments?  No? Then you're not a musician.  Words have power.  Please do not appropriate the title of what so many of us have trained so hard daily for DECADES to achieve.  


(x-posted to xtingu.dreamwidth.org)

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5/28 '17 7 Comments
I didn't use standard listo bullets. I just pasted in some Unicode diamonds. The End uses diamonds in their own design, so it felt apt.
Thomas Boutell 5/28 '17
Ah! That 'splains it!
Can you just use html? Like, could I do the ol' "&bull;" and get a bullet?
oh PLEASE tell me there's video of all of this! i was so bummed i couldn't get down there for the show, it sounds like you kicked your usual ass! <3
Jenn A 5/29 '17
EEEE JENN IS HERE! [Clicks ALL his "give keys" buttons]
Thomas Boutell 5/29 '17
LOL - yeah, I pretty much just had the same reaction.
Also? Welcome aboard. It's good to see you here.

Also also? I'm with you on the whole "Christ, I hope there's video..."
Jenn! Yesyesyes! Be here!!! ❤️❤️❤️❤️