Hi, Summer. Here’s your Mix.

IMG_3809 It’s Memorial Day…the unofficial start to my favorite season of the year. 80+ degree weather, blazing sunshine, afternoon thunderstorms, more crabs than you can eat, and slow lazy days by the pool or on the beach are some of my favorite things.

I guess it’s no surprise that my Summer Mix is always reflects that…I love putting it together. It just feels like happiness to me. The 2016 Summer Mix was compiled in the midst of what is one of the toughest times of my life, so it’s not the usual 20+ song run of splashes and sunshine that it usually is…Instead, it’s a little more tempered. But I am still loving it.

I hope you do, too. Happy Summer, friends.

Grab the liner notes and maybe a bonus track here: http://bit.ly/KrissieSummer2016



Coming Back to Life: The 2016 Spring Mix

unnamedIt’s closing in on the best night of the year…Daylight Saving Time begins in an hour. Tomorrow, it won’t be dark outside until 7 PM, and my internal clock will once again be back on track. While most of my friends are out getting an early start on St. Patrick’s Day, I decided to stay in and tackle finishing up the Spring Mix.

Spring is definitely in the air here in the Queen City. After a pretty emotionally tough few months – winter is always rough for me – I feel myself finally starting to perk up. The 2016 Spring Krissie Mix is definitely a reflection of what’s been going on in my life as I was building it…it is ALL OVER the place. Some new artists, some old loves. Some happy tunes, some sad. Anyway, there’s a little something for everyone to love.

If you want to read about why I was listening to these songs, or how I found out about the artists, or just get a sort of creepy look inside the way my brain works, download the liner notes here. I didn’t do a label this time around…if anyone really wants one, send me a note and I’ll make one for you. But I figure no one is really burning CDs anymore, right?

Happy almost Spring, everyone!


The Year of 100

IMG_5210Since 2004, I’ve been keeping track of all the concerts I’ve attended. To be honest, those early years, there are probably some gaps, because I wasn’t so serious about it. But in the last 5 years or so, I’ve been mildly obsessed with tracking who I’ve seen and where I’ve seen them, and what my “show count” is for the year. The number has always landed somewhere between 50 and 80 – not too shabby for someone who holds down a full-time job that has nothing to do with music.

In August or so of last year, I was doing my monthly update and realized that there was a distinct possibility that I could set a record for myself if I stepped up my concert game a little. The number? 100 live shows. Could I do it? I was pretty sure I could.

Now, there are rules to my madness. For example, festivals only count as one show, no matter how many sets I see during the event. If I did that, I’d be halfway to 100 by the time the Rock Boat was over in January! Plus, at festivals, you end up moving around too much, seeing only part of a set, etc. I only count something as a show if I specifically went there with the purpose of seeing the artist play – so, if I’m hanging out at a bar and there’s a band playing, that doesn’t get counted. You get the idea. Hey, we all have our rules. NPR’s Bob Boilen keeps count, of his shows, too. But he counts every band he sees as a show. So if a show has 3 acts, that’s 3 shows. (For the record, he saw “506 shows” in 2015.)

What this new “goal” did for me was it forced me to broaden my horizons: go see new artists, acts that I didn’t know at all, and others that aren’t typically the type of music that’s up my “power alley.” Some of those new acts I enjoyed, others I didn’t love quite so much, but I listened with an open mind.

And I did hit 100 shows. 101, officially. (You can see my full list here.)  I’m kind of proud of that number. I realize there are people that go to a lot more than I do, but for someone who doesn’t work in the music industry, I think 101 is pretty solid.

There are definitely highlights worth noting. Like that time I flew to Indianapolis to see the OPENING band because it was the only chance I had to see Mighty Oaks on a short U.S. tour (they’re from Berlin). Or that time I forced Rodric to drive to Atlanta and back with me on a weeknight so I could see Alpha Rev. Or going to see The Brothers Landreth on a whim because Stu Larsen had talked about them, not knowing a single note…and falling weak-in-the-knees in love with them. Or driving to Jacksonville to spend a day at the CleanWater Music Festival, put on by Flagship Romance, and being blown away by Israel Nash. The Dirty Guv’nahs farewell shows. There are literally dozens more that I could talk about.

Who did I see the most in 2015? SUSTO takes that title. Saw Justin and his band of compadres 8 times this year. Watching them come into their own and start to get recognized for their incredible talent has been one of the highlights of my year. Furthest traveled? The Rock Boat wins that contest almost every year. But that Mighty Oaks show in Indianapolis was a close second. Most visited venue? The Evening Muse, hands down.

But the most common question I’ve gotten is… What was your favorite? Normally, I have a pretty cut and dry answer to that, but this year, I have a hard time choosing. I mean, any Quiet Hounds show always sits at the top of the list. But that first Brothers Landreth show was pretty phenomenal. Then there was Rainbow Kitten Surprise, who shattered my expectations and made me feel so alive. That Butch Walker show was pretty darn powerful. Then there was the Counting Crows concert…and we all know what they mean to me. My biggest victory was getting Christopher Jak to play a show this year, and my…that man singing could never be short of breathtaking for me. Oh, and Great Peacock…who I barely knew, but went to see to support a friend…completely rocked my world. I think, though, if I had to choose, it would be a tie between The Mighty Oaks at The Deluxe in Indianapolis and be Noah Gundersen at The Visulite Theater in Charlotte. Both of these artists’ music has come to mean so very much to me personally…and seeing both of them was really emotional for very different reasons.

Of course, because I’m an overachiever, I am ready to do it all again in 2016. In fact, I’m going to try to exceed it. So, 2016 is the year of 125. Who wants to join me on my crazy adventure? Keep up and keep me accountable…

Here’s to more live music in 2016!



New Year, New Mix

Hello, friends.

I know it’s been months since I’ve written. No excuses. I just haven’t felt like writing much lately. Work is kicking my butt and the last thing I want to do at night is come home and fire up the old computer. My company – where I have been for nearly 18 years – got sold and the merging of the two new companies isn’t the smoothest transition ever. It’s been stressful. And my Mom had to have some more treatment – cancer sucks, by the way – so I made a quick trip home to Jersey to be with her for awhile. (She’s doing okay…strongest person I know, my Mom.)

Honestly, you guys, I’ve been pretty blue. And tired.

But it’s not all gloom and doom. I haven’t been sitting around doing nothing. I closed out 2015 with a big milestone…seeing more than 100 live shows in a year (101, to be precise). Kind of a big deal for me – I’ve never done it before, and I’ve been keeping track of all the shows I’ve gone to since 2004. It was such a big deal that one of my sweet friends made me a trophy. I’m really proud of myself…I got outside of my box and saw a LOT of new music this year. Artists and bands I didn’t know. I found new loves. Oh, and Christopher Jak is BACK. Played a show in Charlotte. And is making a new record. So there’s that.

And of course, the Panthers are making history here in Charlotte. So that’s super exciting, especially for those of us who have cheered them on through a couple of really tough seasons.

In between all of this, I made the Winter Mix. But the notes, which are usually my favorite part, just weren’t coming easy to me. I guess the whole not feeling like writing thing has been sort of infecting all of my life. So I’ve been sitting on it for awhile. But it’s a new year, and I’m trying to get re-inspired about writing.

So here it is. The Winter Mix. Winter’s definitely not my favorite season, but I like this mix a lot. Hope you will, too.

Grab the notes and the label here.

Lots of love,


Cover Me: Happy Birthday, Boss, the 2015 Edition

I often joke and say I came out of the womb loving Bruce Springsteen, but it’s somewhat true. I don’t really remember when I started loving him…I just know that I always have. In every phase of my life since I was 10 years old, Bruce has been there. I’ve come a long way since playing The River on a tiny little tape recorder in the backyard with a guitar that I assembled out of a shoebox and rubber bands. His songs have changed meanings for me as I’ve grown up, gotten out of my slowly-dying little hometown, and chased my own dreams – they became personal anthems. His music has been the soundtrack to some of the very best moments (and some of the strangest!) moments of my life, and been a solace for me when everything was falling apart. Next to my Mom, his music has been the one unwavering constant in my life. It is everything.

It is now 12:03 PM on September 23rd, and officially Bruce’s 66th birthday. As has become a tradition, I honor him in some way…usually with a blog post, sometimes with birthday parties, and once with a cake adorned with his butt from the Born in the U.S.A. cover.

This year, I decided to go with something a little different. Because I still get googly-eyed when I go to a show and I hear an artist bust out with a Springsteen song, I thought it would be fun to pay tribute to my favorite singer and songwriter of all time with six of my favorite Bruce covers. It’s nearly impossible to pick just six – for crying out loud, I’m leaving out Brian Fallon’s cover of “Backstreets” and Matthew Mayfield’s version of “Dancing in the Dark” (which is downright spooky and wonderful). But I tried, anyway.

Happy birthday, Boss. Thanks for everything.

Ari Hest, “I’m On Fire”
Ari, quite simply, has one of the purest voices around. He’s been covering “I’m on Fire” for years, and he stays pretty true to the original. However, it’s Ari’s crystalline voice that makes this, without a doubt, my favorite Bruce cover by anyone, ever.  I picked this video because it is so bare bones, you can hear just how incredible he is without any amplification at all.

Matthew Ryan, “Something In the Night”
Darkness on the Edge of Town is probably my third favorite Springsteen record, behind Born to Run and Nebraska. It’s an incredibly bombastic record, and this song is about as close to a “power ballad” as Bruce gets. So when the Light of Day tribute album came out in 2003, I was mesmerized by a haunting version of the song that stripped it down to almost nothing. A few years later, I would go to a show at The Evening Muse and see this fellow, the incredibly wonderful Mr. Matthew Ryan, play a show with Mieka Pauley, and come to discover his music was just as fabulous in its own right. (Really, you should check him out.)

Tim Brantley, “Spirit In the Night”
I could tell two dozen stories about Tim Brantley and Bruce Springsteen. The first time I saw him, he wore this wool hat that was kind of slung back low on his head, and he looked so much like Bruce in the legendary Hammersmith-Odeon concert, and there was just all this Bruce in his voice…I think it might have sealed the deal for me falling in love with Tim Brantley on the spot. One night, a year or two later, he was playing a show here in Charlotte, and he walked in to the venue wearing skin tight black jeans, and a mechanic’s shirt, with his hair slicked back. I looked at him and said, “Well, aren’t you duded up for Saturday night,” a reference to this song. He grinned at me and said, “I think you’re the only girl I know who knows what that means.” From that point forward, he’d play this one for me whenever I came out to see him. I am a lucky gal.

Passenger, “The River”
In 1985, the “box set” came out…and it was a big deal at the time. Three tapes of live Bruce performances over the course of 10 years. I was 11, and I remember playing the cut of “The River” over and over again, because Bruce told this long story before it about his relationship with his dad, and I wanted to memorize it. So when Passenger released this cover last year, I lost my bloody mind. One of my favorite present day singers covering the ultimate singer. Yes, please.

Ben Harper, “My Father’s House”
If you’re a Springsteen fan, I don’t know how this couldn’t be on the list of best covers of a Springsteen song ever done. Ben Harper is just perfect in this absolutely gorgeous version of a very under-discussed, underrated Bruce song. Thanks, Ben, for raising its profile. (And seriously, how smoking hot is Ben in this video?)

The Hold Steady, “Atlantic City”
My favorite Bruce song of all time is “Jungleland,” followed closely by a dead tie between “Dancing in the Dark” and “Atlantic City.” Loads and loads of people have covered Atlantic City, but none ever nailed it for me until I heard The Hold Steady do it. It’s raspy, and filled with a modern-day desperation that matches the original. I love it.