My Best Guest List

I have a really hard time getting people to show up at my concerts.  I’m pretty sure it’s nothing personal.  Life is just busy and things come up and people lie through their teeth and say they’ll come when they know full well that they’re staying in to watch The Office in their pajamas.  It’s cool.  I get it. I’ve done the same thing.

But this past Monday, just before performing at Hollywood’s historic Viper Room, my coolest guest ever showed up (the guy in the robe – not the guy in the car):



So, y’know, it’s all good.  When fans don’t show up at my gigs, sometimes Jesus does instead (hope to see all of you at some point, though…)





ps – Wouldn’t ya’ know – he’s got a Facebook fanpage?  You can join here:



Grandfather Knows Best

Ever since I can remember, conversations with my Grandpa Ripka – as few and far between as they were – always ended with, “At least you have your health.”  This was his way of being optimistic, I suppose, while I always found it sort of bleak.  That is, of course, until I became sick.

I’ve been sick so rarely in my life.  Aside from the 30 consecutive days of class I missed in high school due to an endless march of migraines, I’ve been relatively well most of my life.  Well – there were those two months in middle school when I needed so much medical attention that my doctor began ending our consultations with a cheerful, “See you next week!”

But I was never really sick, then (unless you count Over-Emotional 12 Year Old Girl Syndrome an illness).  In fact, I’ve never felt “really” sick.

Until this past November.

It started as a cold.  I’d just gotten back from four weeks traveling through the northeast – singing and stressing out about my life like any other normal musician.  I noticed a sore throat the day after I got back to Detroit – just before singing at a birthday party for my friend’s husband.  I did my usual onslaught of zinc, vitamin C, and salt water mouth washes figuring it would do the trick.

The cold lingered on my road trip west – coming to a head in Nashville where my host at the time graciously put two Alka-Seltzer colds towards the cause of my recovery.  I slept for 12 full hours and woke up feeling like a million bucks. Mission accomplished.

I rolled into LA a week later – just before Thanksgiving – and felt the tiniest bit of the fatigue and sore throat making a comeback.  I went back on my warpath of zinc, orange juice, lemons, tea – my whole arsenal back in action.  It finally settled down and I was in the clear again.

Then again, I never really felt like I was in the clear-clear  The sore throat was always around – I just didn’t notice it as much because it had been around for long enough to feel normal by then. 

“Is my throat still sore?” I’d ask myself.

Nah – it’s always been this way, some scratchy-throated Virus would mutter back, hoping it hadn’t blown its cover.

I celebrated Christmas relatively free of tissues and coughing – a nice gift, in hindsight, because I was back to the drawing board by New Years Eve.  No passing Go and definitely no collecting $200.

Two weeks had gone by with little to no progress when I heard about a friend’s recent bout with Bronchitis.  After listening to a short list of his symptoms, I began wondering if maybe I had Bronchitis, too.

“Or,” another friend offered matter-of-factly, “It could be Pneumonia.”

When I think of Pneumonia, I tend to think of Little House on the Prairie or some other pioneer drama where everyone starts dropping like flies from Scarlet Fever, Typhus, or (your guessed it) Pneumonia.  It also makes me think of homemade house cleaners that burn your nose hair; but that doesn’t really relate at the moment.  Either way – it definitely seems more threatening than the common cold and probably wouldn’t feel the least bit phased by my onslaught of zinc and citrus. And when you find yourself muttering under your breath every few minutes, “I just want to be better!  I would give ANYthing to just feel BETTER!”, well, my friends – that’s when you realize that your sickness saga has gone on for far too long.

So this morning I dragged myself to the Urgent Care Center in Burbank where I waited with some screaming babies and a man bleeding profusely from his head.

“Eet ees steel dreeping..,” I heard him say with mild delirium as they (thankfully) ushered him out of the waiting room.

Two hours later I was prepping for some chest X-rays and an hour after that my doctor finally came in and delivered the news.

“Looks like you have a bad case of Bronchitis, my dear,” he said looking bleakly over my chart, “But it could also be Walking Pneumonia so I’ll have to treat you for both.”

I was busy envisioning myself dying by candlelight with Michael Landon and Melissa Gilbert when he delivered the harder news.

“No singing at least for 3 more days…”

In case we don’t all remember, I CAME OUT HERE TO SING. That is what I came all the way out here to DO.  I have perhaps one of my biggest shows to date, in fact, this upcoming Thursday (which is, thankfully, FOUR days away and should hopefully keep me within the No Singing For Three Days parameters…).  And then three more days after THAT, I have a show at the amazing and historic Viper Room.  And these aren’t just any sort of run-of-the-mill show like I’ve done in the past.   They involve a drummer, a cellist, hair, makeup – the whole nine yards.

All this to say that I ran as fast as my little Honda would take me to the nearest Walgreen’s and filled all three of my prescriptions as soon as humanly possible.  I also picked up some Chinese medicine supplements to help speed things along – one of which is called “Lung Fire” (I’d tell you what’s in it, but I honestly can’t pronounce a single ingredient…).  And, of course, I’ll still be plugging away with zinc, tea, and all the citrus I can pick from my trees in the backyard.  Pneumonia – you have met your match.

While writing this essay, I read a friend’s email about the recent parking ticket they’d received.  I didn’t say it out loud like I wanted to, but Grandpa Ripka and I, I’m sure, were thinking the same thing:

At least you have your health.

And I hope you do, dear reader.  Now more than ever, I truly hope that you do….




Current Pharmaceutical Cocktail: Immunity Plus supplement, Lung Fire supplement, Inhaler, Amoxicillin, Cough Syrup with codeine, wine and fresh fruit (the Rice Crispies in the background are just there for show)

Tender Texas Christmas

I have less than an hour to post one last blog of the year and am just sitting here nursing my fourth (and hopefully last) cold of the season.  My tissues and cold medicine aren’t particularly good conversationalists so I’ll take the time to run down my final highlights of the last week of 2010:

1.  Doing one final show of the year at Citizen Smith Restaurant that finally felt like a success.  Great crowd, great atmosphere, and a great Manager who gave me and my table of friends two free bottles of wine just for guessing what movie was playing on the screen above the bar (it was “Tremors”.  Easy shot if you ask me.  There’s no mistaking Kevin Bacon’s hair or those crazy prosthetic worms.).

2.  Piling into Jourdan’s car and driving to Houston, TX to see her family – most notably including her Great Aunt Pearlie who will turn 99 in 2011.  She greeted us with the energy of someone at least 30 years younger and asked if we were up to all of the excitement.  “Because my family, you know,” she said while pulling me aside, “We like to party it up – if you know what I mean.”  I’m happy to say that I was out-partied by a 98 year old Swedish woman from Texas.

3.  Heading off to Marfa, TX where I’ve been anxious to see the mysterious lights I’ve heard so much about.  Here’s what we saw:

Marfa Lights! (or maybe just the Marfa light?)


Note: Apparently, February is the best time to view the lights as this guy’s photo shows.  Maybe better luck next time?…



4.  Staying at the historical Hotel Paisano in Marfa where I’m sure Jourdan and her vegetarian self most appreciated the following painting in our room:

Those Texans, man - they sure love their meat....


5.  Stopping in an Art Gallery where we could purchase the piece below for the discounted price of $18,000 (yes, that’s what I said.  Eighteen Thousand Dollars.  Who knew vellum paper and graphite pencils could be so expensive??):


6.  Poking around the El Cosmico trailer park resort that takes the cake for Cool Places to Stay in West Texas.  Seriously.  I totally wanted to take over one of those renovated trailers and call it my own.  Plus, there’s a tiki bar.  There’s really no reason to leave, if you ask me….

I like to call this The Crochet Wagon.

Tiki Bar!

MORE Tiki Bar!


7.  Making our way to the Chinati Foundation where I accidentally mistook the art gallery for a construction site.

No, really - this IS the art.



This, however, is NOT part of the gallery (it's confusing, though, right??)



There's also an 8-hour guided tour offered inside of the gallery; but unfortunately it was closed the day we visited. I was really looking forward to a whole entire day of listening to someone talk on and on about steel and concrete cubicles that sit in the middle of the desert.



8.  And last but not least:  Collecting Jourdan’s cat Loci (pronounced “Low-Key”) from Austin, TX and bringing him to the west coast.  Lemme tell you – you haven’t traveled until you’ve gone 24 hours with a cat wailing in your backseat.  But honestly, he’s so happy here now that it’s all (mostly) a distant memory.

Happy as clams.


So, that’s that, my friends.

Now, you’ll have to excuse me – I’ve got another dose of cold meds to take.  Here’s to a happy and healthy New Year!