A message from Kirsten:

(Excerpted from the latest “News and Blues Letter”. Sign up to stay in touch!)

As I look back on the past year, I want to thank each of you for making this my most exciting, rewarding, and special year ever of making music. The ‘year’ I refer to started with the Duck Jazz Fest in Oct 2011 and concluded with the end of the Europe Tour in Oct 2012. Below are a few reflections on the past year….

…And then the beat goes on, carrying us forward into the future. While the band and I get set for our headline night at Buddy Guy’s Legends (Dec 1 in Chicago), I am booking 2013 dates like crazy.

Kirsten Thien Solo Live ~ Spirit of 66 in Belgium

On Black Friday, while the world shops to its heart’s content, I’ll be in the studio prepping the most unexpected product of the 2012 Tour. A new album! Solo Live from the Meisenfrei Blues Club (Bremen, Germany). You will get the whole story and a preview on Monday, but here’s a taste of the ‘vibe’ of the new record here (in Belgium at the Spirit of 66 opening for Popa Chubby).

If you are in the Chicago area join the full KT Band at Buddy Guy’s Legends on Saturday, December 1! Flights to Chicago are CHEAP right now, so, “Blue Christmas Shopping Trip” anyone?

It so happens that on the very night we play Legends, Buddy will be honored for his artistic achievements (along with Led Zeppelin, David Letterman and others) at the annual Kennedy Center Honors. I think is is magical, even tho’ it means Buddy won’t be in Chicago to sit in with the KT Band. We’re going to honor him with our own Blues, Soul and Rock ‘n Roll, so come on out people!

Reflections on the past year

There were many turning points for me as an artist in the past year. Here are just a very few reflections.

Duck Jazz Fest, Oct 2011 This festival, its organizers and the fans that came out to see us (plus the new fans that have stayed with us since then) taught me just what it was like to feel valued and taken care of for our artistic contribution. It showed us that the songs and our sound plays as well on a big festival stage as it does in the honky tonks we’ve been shaking the walls off of for the past 7 years. Thanks to the folks in Duck and ALSO to ALL our OBX friends (PRs!!!) that have been part of cultivating our sound and who have also given us soul-reviving responses at all the OBX shows over the years.

Europe Tour, Nov/Dec 2011: Our FIRST European tour. This tour was glued together with the help of our friends in Austria, The Netherlands, and Germany. We laid the groundwork for 2012, we sparked the interest of fans and clubs and industry folk alike. We lost a lot less money than we could have for 18 days on the road and we gained priceless experience. We were taken into home after home for a Sunday meal and we were hosted by families, who also enjoyed a cultural excursion in the life of a (remarkably well-behaved) touring band from the USA. This was our first step on path to international touring.

“C2 Shining C” Cross Country USA, May 2012: Another first! This tour made me so proud of my country. It also made me want to fly more often. I’ve heard about grueling drives across America, but the experience is another thing. Oh, we’ll do it again many times, I am sure. I needn’t expound here. I kept a blog which was published here: http://blues411.com/?p=4130

On the cover and featured (as well a published) in Blues Matters Magazine, June 2012: This was quite a shot in the arm. In retrospect, I now know that this feature was the beginning of my touring life in the UK. You can download the published article, my “Howlin’ for Hubert” Concert (Apollo Theater) reflections.

Opening for Dickey Betts, July 2012: There’s nothing I can say that isn’t said in this video.

East Coast Summer Tour, Aug/Sept 2012: While the Band and I covered the Coast from Maine to North Carolina, I also had a fantastic ‘Solo Together’ tour with my dear friend Galia Arad before we went our respective ways to Europe. During of our fateful trip to Nashville, I scored a Pan-European Sub-Publishing deal with a Dutch publisher. Go figure.

Europe Tour 2012, Pt. 1 (Band) Sept 28 – Oct 13, 2012: This is the part of the tour where the KT Band (David Patterson, Johnny Pisano and Dylan Wissing) played the best we have ever played, shared magic on stage EVERY single show, and saw 5 countries in 2 weeks. It’s also the time where challenges abounded and the daytime could find me sobbing or elated about the current situation. The band kept me sane (relatively) through it all and with any other group we would have disintegrated. But besides being great musicians, these guys are also great people with the strength and road experience to just keep going. And no matter what was going on outside of the gig, we laid it at the stage every night and poured everything (I mean EVERYTHING) into the show. When we hit the stage to a packed house in Paris (our last show) it was about as good as it gets. Delirious with road fatigue, but carried by the music we made it to this point saying good night to an adoring house and feeling like we’d been through the fire, to become a stronger metal.

Europe Tour (Belgium) 2012, Pt. 2 (Solo) Oct 20-21, 2012: This part of the tour was yet another turning point for me as an artist. I met up with my most loved Bassist/Producer/Songwriter Erik Boyd on his tour with Popa Chubby in Verviers, Belgium and had the honor of opening for one of the rockin’est trios known to the living world. If the audience didn’t throw rotten tomatoes (or endives) at me, it would be a success! To the contrary, the crowd was attentive and appreciative of this lone girl with a guitar. I have always been particularly stressed out playing shows solo. So the video I posted above, I can say definitively, is the very first solo show I ever purely enjoyed.

Europe Tour (UK) 2012, Pt. 3 (Solo, sort of) Oct 25 – 28, 2012: As put my fate in the hands of a virtual stranger, who I now call friend I moved on to the UK. I will pre-print for you here, an excerpt/quote from an upcoming show review in Blues Matters to give you an idea:

“The UK tour dates were a dream, a figment of our imagination, less than three months ago. With such short lead time, we should never have been able to pull off a wildly successful leg of the tour in the Northeast UK. But due to Stuart’s tenacity, and my willingness to take the risk and put my fate in the hands of a wonderful person I’d, as yet, only met on Facebook (and one skype chat), the UK dates went beyond our imagination and into an even better reality.

In the end, I made two solo appearances and two appearances with (different) local bands in the North-East. We have laid the groundwork for future country-wide tours (which Stuart will again be involved with for sure!). The day of the Darlington show, the band and I met each other and set up around 3 pm. We began running tunes at 4pm, and broke for dinner at 6pm. At 7:30 we’re back at the venue to share a pint and at 9 pm we hit the stage and never looked back!”

Europe Tour (Germany) 2012, Pt. 4 (Solo) Oct 28 – 30, 2012: After a couple glorious days off (oh yes, one of those was traveling 10 hours, but it was still a day off!) I prepped for the final show at The Meisenfrei Blues Club. The day of the show, my friend Marita took me up to Bremerhaven, where, for centuries, German and other European emigrants have launched toward a better life and the great unknown. It was very profound and I think this daytrip had much to do with a calmness and a sense of perspective I felt going into the final show of the tour.

The Meisenfrei Blues Club is a venue that all the major Blues acts have come up through at one time or another. It’s a big venue and is accustomed to big sound! As it happened (since they book over a year in advance), when the dates for my KT Band gigs changed in the summer time, I was unable to move this date and decided to perform it solo. (You don’t just go canceling these shows and expect to work that club ever again.) I had no idea what to expect, but as it got closer to showtime, the room had filled every seat and every bar table on a Tuesday night. Once I saw the crowd, all anxiety melted away. I didn’t know the house was recording the show, and I never expected the performances or the recording quality would be ‘releaseable’. But something magic happened that night. The rest is history.

Thanks for hanging with me! I hope you enjoyed the re-cap!

More on the new CD soon…

Rockin’ peace to ya!
Kirsten