Arizona, New Mexico and Harvey

Howdy Folks!! 

Been a few months since my last blog post. I have to say its been a busy few months of traveling, shows, and photo work. We began the month of August with a road trip/ RV tour to visit our friends in Flagstaff, AZ. We got to experience RV living for two weeks, and let me tell you it was a BLAST!! Of course we got to bring our little dog-child, Ziggy Stardust The Westie. He's the best travel companion you can ask for! We made it to Flagstaff with no hiccups. It was my first time to spend any length of time in Arizona and I must say, what a beautiful state! We hiked, explored Sedona and Flagstaff, ate great food and spent much needed quality time with friends. 

Onto the next journey, we pulled out of Flagstaff and headed back east to New Mexico for my show at Eske's Brewery in the charming little town of Taos, NM. We made it again, no problems and set up the RV for our remaining days in New Mexico. This trip was super special to us. We found ourselves in the mountains doing what we love: traveling, playing music, and taking photographs. I just happened to book my show on the day of the solar eclipse! WOW! What are the odds?! What did we do?? Well, we had a photo shoot during the eclipse, the lighting was somewhat polarized...and weird. The landscape was phenomenal! After the photo shoot, we headed into town to grab a coffee and bite to eat and Michael's Cafe. I've spent some time in Taos so I knew the local spots for us to visit. In Taos there are tons of cool. little diners that specialize in New Mexican cuisine and not to mention textiles and specialty leather shops. We had our fill of enchiladas and crafts then proceeded back to our camp grounds to get ready for the show.

I was excited to share my songs with the people of New Mexico that evening. The venue (oldest brewery in NM) was very quaint, tucked back into the adobe buildings unseen by the tourist traffic. It was great!! We arrived an hour early to set up the stage and get familiar with the venue. The staff was very outgoing and supportive. While setting up, I met a local by the name of Jacob Haggerty and chatted it up all the while the clouds behind the mountains were building and darkening. It was monsoon season in northern New Mexico and man, were we in for a surprise! After a few cracks of thunder and lighting, the bottom fell out of the sky. Plan B was enacted. We moved all the gear out of the storm and put it away for the night. Forty-five minutes passed with no let up from the storm. With no other options available, the show must go on... right? So I moved inside the brewery where it was dry and full of locals. I put together a makeshift stage and got to work (full acoustic, no PA, etc). Ohhhh did I mention that Jacob was a two-time New Mexico State Champion mandolin player??!!Yeah, that happened!! I asked Jacob to set in with me for a few songs. A few songs turned into 2 hrs of jamming all original tunes. The rain may have dampened the night but inside the brewery it was pure magic. It was definitely a highlight of my musical career and a night I'll never forget.

The show commenced and we chatted with the locals while consuming craft beers and huge burgers with smiles all around. It was definitely a night for the books. The next day we slept in and relaxed. We felt so at home in the RV that we didn't want to make our way back. We decided to stay for two more days in the mountains exploring and just enjoying the landscape. We visited The Gorge (with Ziggy) and numerous cool textile boutiques, hat shops, and tasty diners.

Making our way back to Oklahoma to drop off the RV and begin our journey back to Houston, we learned that Hurricane Harvey strengthened to a Category 4 storm. Very scary! We just moved to Houston only to have a huge storm headed our way. We didn't prepare our belongings before we left for a major weather event. We had to hope for the best and sit it out in Oklahoma. Harvey became one of the costliest storms in history with major catastrophic flooding. Many people/friends lost everything. It was very sad and surreal to sit in Oklahoma and watch the devastation of our city with your hands tied. Seven days later we were able to pack our bags and get back to Houston. We didn't know what to expect after seeing numerous pictures through social media of the devastation that took place. As expected, Houston once again pulled together to help their neighbors and friends overcome adversity. I'm so proud to be a Houstonian. The flooding left many without shelter, food, clothes, and the basic necessities of everyday life. We had to do something to help. I had an upcoming show in Galveston, TX at Woody's Beach Bar with local songwriter, Gabe Wootton...PERFECT! We could pull some people together and raise some money for a charity in the Houston area. The turnout was great! Thanks to all the friends and fans that came out at such trying times. We ended up raising enough funds to feed over 1,500 people through the Houston Food Bank. This was the highlight of the year for me! Using music to give back to those in need is one of the greatest feelings I've ever experienced. I'm so glad we could help! 

The last few months have been a whirlwind for me. I have played a string of fun shows with amazing artists in the local Houston scene. Through relocating to a new city, traveling a thousand miles, playing music out-of-state, making it through a hurricane with no damage, and sharing my art; Its been a great conclusion to 2017. Here's to many more fun shows, traveling and doing what I love. Hope you can make it out to a show in the coming future. Cheers!

Jilli Bethany