For Mother’s Day…

For the longest time, I was convinced that my mom was actually Julie Andrews.  It only took one viewing of The Sound of Music to convince me that my multi-talented mother had obviously snuck off at some point before I’d been born, dyed her hair blond, and taken a few short months to sing and dance her way through an entire film shoot.  Totally plausible….

It took me awhile to figure out that my mom is in fact not Julie Andrews but she is still one of the finest actresses I know.  She held plenty of promise as a Drama major at Ithaca College back in the late 60’s when a tall ambitious Music major named Keith Ripka was wise enough to cast her as the lead in his senior thesis musical. The rest, they say, is history.

And then she had kids. 

While her career took the backseat to the three of us kids, my dad continued to try to blaze a trail for himself as a creative professional while bringing us all along – casting us as singers and actors in his regular stage plays.  They were plays that never seemed to end, though – either on stage and off.  I can’t speak for her but I don’t think my mom’s acting days never died.  The truth is, sometimes you spend so much time performing that you don’t know when the performance actually ends.  Sometimes the toughest audience is the family you love and sometimes it’s difficult to discern whether they love you for who you are or who you are trying desperately to be. 

So, no – my mom is not Julie Andrews.  She is the finest mom a girl could ask for, though, and a damn fine performer who could certainly give Ms. Andrews a run for her money.  This mother’s day – and every day – I hope she knows that she will never have to audition for a lead role in my life.  She has always had that and always will.



No Pants

Hey blog readers!

Happy August!

S’been awhile since my last post, eh??  I’d like to officially blame it on the fact that I’m burning candles from every end imaginable with the album in full swing, a happy little full time job, some songwriting here and there, and lots and lots of memoir writing.  To give you a sense of the sort of stories you might be in for with this upcoming record/memoir package, I thought I’d start posting some previews.  Here’s one that seems appropriate for the summer months…

In the meantime, I’ll head back to my candle-burning and talk to you soon!




For as long as I’ve known him, my dad has been a huge fan of the outdoor swimming pool.  My memories of him from the months of May through September were in swim trunks and a bright orange Hawaiian shirt.  I’m fairly certain we even chose our friends based on whether or not they had their own in-ground pool.   Vernell and Hubert, for example, owned a condo in New Jersey with their own community pool, which we visited on a regular basis.  Vernell was a harpist who occasionally helped my dad on his recording projects – which I suppose legitimized the relationship a bit; but since Hubert didn’t speak much more than some heavy German, they were pretty much useless.

Still, they let us use their pool.

One Saturday morning my dad announced that we were heading to the condo for the day and should pack our swimsuits.  I pretty much hate packing – always have.

And since I didn’t want to even carry a bag in the car, I decided to put my suit on under a t-shirt cover up and call it a day.  It was like beating the system – why pack a suit when you can wear it??  What hadn’t this occurred to me before??

I basically felt like a superhero.  Not wanting anyone to copy my fabulous secret, though, I packed a small duffel bag with a towel and some stuffed animals to add some weight.

After a full day of swimming my dad decided that we should head home.  It was then that I quickly realized the error of my ways.  While everyone else had clothes to change into, I suddenly had NO PANTS.

I dug around for solutions; but all I came up with were a couple of stuffed animals and a soggy towel.

“Don’t panic!” I thought, “Just pull your shirt down to look like a dress!”

I crept into the car as stealthily as I could – pulling my shirt to my knees and covering myself with my tiny duffel bag.

“Where should we go for dinner?” my dad asked once we were all in the car.

I wanted to volunteer a dark hole in the center of the universe; but Burger King was a better option.  Thankfully we opted for the drive thru.

“Who wants to go to the park??” my mom asked enthusiastically.

The level of panic rising in my throat was only outmatched by the excitement of my siblings.  There was no way out.  We all loved the park.  I just generally enjoyed it more with pants.

After climbing out of the car and surveying the situation, I knew I was done for.  Everything in a playground was built to blow one’s cover if they’re missing any article of clothing.  Everything I once enjoyed became an anxiety attack of someone noticing my lower half.

Miraculously I somehow managed to not blow my cover.  Perhaps it was because I was behaving like I was coming down with the bird flu while constantly pulling at my clothing.

“How ’bout some ice cream!” my dad suggested – our faces lighting up like dogs with chew toys.  I was mostly excited that it was getting darker and hopefully I was finally in the clear.  Amazing!  A day without a single person noticing!  I was awesome!!!

Somewhere in my excitement I must have gotten a little careless.  Maybe I bent over to pick up a skittle on the floor.  All I remember was my father’s face in the driveway.

“Ohmygod!!  Where the hell are your pants?!?”

And that’s why I don’t go to swimming pools anymore.

Studio Footage

Well, shame on me for going 2 whole months without a single blog update.  This is what I get for having a full time job….

But hello all you friends and strangers out there!  Thought I’d fill you in on the fact that recording has officially begun on my next project with my most favorite, Brooke Waggoner.  Two weeks ago, Tripp Beam (my drummer) and I flew out to Nashville for the weekend and tracked drums and piano for every song.  It was a bit of a whirlwind of activity and focus with alot of ground to cover.  Thankfully, we finished ahead of schedule!  Sadly, we didn’t get any video footage along the way.  Seeing as that’s a pretty important part of promotions for a record, here’s what we put together for you to give you a good idea of what things were like.

Alright, so it’s not totally accurate.  But it’s still sorta close….  If nothing else, here’s a photo for proof that we all at least were in the studio for the weekend (a super classy one, I might add.  When recording in Nashville, definitely give the sweet folks at McPherson a shout!).

left to right: Tripp Beam (rock star Drummer), Brooke Waggoner (mega-boss Producer), me (the short one), Michael Head (superfly Engineer)

So there you have it folks.  You heard it all here first.  Thanks for tracking alongside me in all of this.  It’s quite possibly the biggest undertaking I’ve ever attempted and your support is never unappreciated.

Til next time! (hopefully sooner rather than later….)



Sad Love Songs, Happy Shows

Hey friends –

Someone told me that April is almost over.  I could’ve sworn we were still somewhere in February…

Lots going on over here on my end.  I ended up taking a job in West LA that will hopefully help fund a fun recording project.  The bad news is that jobs take up a great deal of my time and I don’t even get to think about pianos more than once a week.  The good news is that a recording project could be on the horizon!  Makes all the late nights and long commutes worth it (usually….)

But when I’m not at work, I goof off every now and again with other musician friends to remind myself of what keeps me ticking.  Recently, my friend Jourdan got to interview the band, Cake, for her hot little green blog.  Since I occasionally cover one of their quintessentially awesome songs (“Never There” in case you’re having a hard time deciding which one fits that description…), she agreed to send it along to them with a package of tshirts they ordered from her.  I called my friend, David, to see if he could take an hour or two to record the track at his super sweet studio.  One take and lots of fun times later, here’s what we came up with:

Oh, sad love songs….

If that left you a bit weepy, here’s some good news to cheer you up – MORE SHOWS!  I had to swear them off for awhile while I worked 70 hour work weeks; but I’m giving a few more a shot out west before heading back to the great wide midwest.  Here’s all the info (and a fancy poster!):

THURSDAY 4/28/11 @8pm

Pop Champagne & Dessert Bar
33 East Union Street
Pasadena, CA 91103
All Ages – NO COVER
Call (626) 795-1295 for dinner reservations and say who you’ll be there to see (me!)

THURSDAY 5/5/11 @8pm

The Terrace
443 E. Colorado Blvd.
Pasadena, CA,
21+ – $12 tickets available online here:
(or email me and I’ll mail you a hard copy

SATURDAY 5/28/11 @9pm

Park Bar (for a show AND my birthday.  Come with a party hat!)
2007 West Burbank Boulevard
Burbank, CA 91506-1318
21+ – $5

So there you have it, friends!  Til next time, enjoy your spring (very soon to be summer….)



March Madness!!

Hey!  Hey!  Welcome back to the blog!

March is shaping up to look CUH-RAY-ZAY for me and I’m losing a bit of sleep over how busy it’s going to be (or rather, how I’m going to manage getting enough people to come out and join me in all of the busyness going on…).  Since I fell so much in love with the vlogging experience from last time and grew weary at the thought of trying to write about all of my shows coming up that I decided to do yet ANOTHER video.  This time I enlisted my good friend, Anna, to help me out.  This girl is super winner….  Check it out:

And in case you don’t have 3 minutes and 37 seconds to two girls goof off in a park, here’s the list of shows coming up:

Monday 3/7/11 @9:30pm – O’Brien’s Pub – 2941 Main St. Santa Monica, CA 90405 – FREE!!!!!!! (I just need 10 people there…)

Thursday 3/10/11 @9pm – Puka Bar – 710 W Willow St. Long Beach, CA 90806 – $5 Cover – Opening for Said the Whale:

Sunday 3/13/11 @7:15pm – The Mint – 6010 West Pico Blvd. LA, CA 90035 – $10 for 21+, $13 for under 21 – Opening for The Young Romans (I just need 15 people there…)

Thursday 3/17/11 @8:40pm – House of Blues – 8430 West Sunset Blvd. West Hollywood, CA 90069 – $10 – all ages (I need 20 whole entire people to show up!  AHG!)


Hope to see you and your fancy faces there!!


jess  (and anna)

Tiny Pop Dancer

Hey friends!

If you like to read my blogs but are tired of actually reading, this week is for you!

Without further ado, click the image below to check out this week’s Video Blog!

And in case you don’t have time to watch the video, the most important part is that I HAVE A SHOW THIS FRIDAY!!  Here’s the skinny on all the details:

Friday 2/25/11

Blue Cafe

17208 Pacific Coast Highway

Huntington Beach, CA

Doors at 7 – Tix $12

Send a message to for your tickets


Quit Your Day Job

I was hanging out with Patrick, the bartender, at my show this past Monday night who had a few questions.

1.  Did I study music full time in school?

2.  Do I do music full time now as a job?

I had to tell him no on both counts, at which point he said something along the lines of, “Wow – well, you should!”

Thanks, Patrick – I’d love to.

My actual job is similar in that it involves sitting down; but that’s where the similarities end, I’m afraid (I don’t count the quiet humming I do by the xerox machine while making copies…).  And unfortunately, I usually sit at a desk instead of a piano.  For hours. Like, hours and hours and hours.  Did I mention that I sit for hours??  Anywhere between 10 and 14, to be exact.  Here’s a cartoon I drew to demonstrate my point:

That said, you can understand (I hope…) why I revel in my free time.  I spend a good portion of the year ‘between projects’, as they say, and have a hard time letting go of that free time once another project starts up.  Case in point – I was recently offered a stellar position on an even more stellar film that would have had me working with the stellarest crew of all time (‘stellarest’ is a word.  Promise.)  Think of every enjoyable, successful, amazing film and it’s likely that this woman worked on it.  And she wanted to hire me!  Sadly, she wanted to hire me to sit in a chair all day – both in LA and Detroit.  And if there’s one thing I’ve discovered from being back in LA, it takes a ridiculously long time to build a fanbase somewhere and I’m not ready to stop building what I’ve got here out west.

So.  I turned it down.  It’s not that I’ll never work again.  Hopefully I’ll make some money before things get really tight and I can’t even afford to do what I love anymore.  Until then, though, I’m sticking to my guns and staying out of that chair.  A great plan during a recession, right??  So if you’re the praying type, feel free to send some prayers my way.  If not, then you can just send cash.




ps – almost forgot!  I just got some video footage back from my show in Long Beach a few weeks ago.  Wanna check out a fresh new song I’m working on recording?  I thought so…  And check out the HOTTEST little band I’ve ever been part of (not that I’ve actually ever been in a band, but….).  Tripp Beam rocks my little toe socks off every time he hits a drum set and Luke Janela makes me endlessly happy with his cello.  Seriously.  I can’t give this up.  Not yet….


ps2 – For those of you in similar situations or empathetic to the plight of a Dreamer in less than dreamy times, here’s a book for you.  Far and away one of the best books for kids and grown-ups.  Read the whole thing for yourself just by clicking on the image below.  Enjoy!



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