Katy Perry’s Lists

July 8, 2011

Dearest Di,

You know Katy Perry?


Katy Perry! You know, “Ca-Li-For-Nia Girls, Be Do Na Doony Doo” yada yada


RIGHT! That Katy Perry. Well I was listening to the radio this morning. I like to start my day with some low-grade zone out music. Katy Perry, Rob Thomas. Lifehouse. That crew. And upon listening to KP’s new single “Last Friday Night” (which I admittedly find oddly endearing) I realized that our girl has actually just released another laundry list of bad choices. Let me explain…

Get your thinking cap on, Di! We are going to compare and contrast the lyrics to “Last Friday Night” (L.F.N.) with “Waking Up in Vegas.”  (W.U.I.V.) Let’s use everything we learned in school. Thesis:

To prove that 2 out of 3 of Katy Perry’s last singles were actually just lists of things she could not believe she did or just plain forgot about from the previous day(s).

Feelings of disorientation intoxication in the morning:


  • You gotta help me out
  • It’s all a blur last night
  • We need a taxi ’cause you’re hung-over and I’m broke
  • Why are these lights so bright?
  • Oh, did we get hitched last night dressed up like Elvis?


  • There’s a pounding my head (much like our previous hang over)
  • It’s a black top blur (notice that we are in a “blur” yet again)
  • I smell like a minibar
  • DJ’s passed out in the yard
  • Think we kissed but I forgot
  • Glitter all over the room

Evidence of skanky choices from previous night(s):


  • I lost my fake ID but you lost the MOTEL key
  • Get up and shake the glitter off your clothes now (Glitter AGAIN?! WHY?!)
  • That’s what you get for waking up in Vegas


  • There’s a stranger in my bed
  • There’s a hickie or a bruise
  • We went streaking in the park
  • Skinny dipping in the dark
  • Then had a menage a trois

False bravado:

W.U. I. V.

  • Don’t be a baby
  • Remember what you told me


  • Pictures of last night ended up online, I’m screwed, OH WELL
I think it’s safe to say, Di, that this confirms what we originally thought. She’s making some bad choices. To say the least. There are a lot more examples in Last Friday Night, mostly because there are more words. But either way, it’s bad.

Ladykiller. You’re welcome.

June 30, 2011

Dear Diary,

Do you have any brothers or sisters? I don’t think I’ve ever asked you that. I mean, you seem like an only child buuut it could just be one of those things. You know, where you have a friend and you just assume that they have no family.

Could be like that.

Well I have one brother. His name is Matt and he is just about one of the most talented people you will ever meet. And he’s not talented in a freakish, weirdo sort of way. Like one of those kids who plays Bach cantatas at 4 years old.

Emily Bear. Crazy good at the piano...and crazy small.

He’s just naturally, casually, one of the best musicians I know. He is so versatile and at the same time, dead on his mark ALL the time. We (my parents and I) didn’t know that he had these skills when he was a kid. Sure, he took guitar lessons and listened to The Fugees on loop in his room.

Some sweet jams on this record right here.

But it wasn’t until maybe 2009 that we even knew he could sing! :::cough, cough::: LIKE AN ANGEL!

Oh. What else does he do? Well, mostly he plays the guitar. Now, I know what you’re thinking because you said it last week at pinochle. “Everyone plays the guitar and sings…” But you don’t understand. Matt isn’t just your dime store, regulation guy with a guitar. He’s just the most…he’s…AGH… Di, here. I can’t put it into words. Check it out for yourself.

Ladykiller – The Willow <~~~~ That’s just one of my favorite songs.

But you can also just go to their Reverbnation page and listen to a bunch of them. The whole album isn’t out yet but you’ll get a nice idea.

He also writes and/or co-writes all of the music and has an inSANE ear for harmony. And rhythm! I relate to him on the ear portion of his skills but I also went to school for music which helped me connect a lot of the dots while he definitely did not. He’s 100% authentic. He’s like a feral musician, aside from some guitar technique in middle school.

So he has been playing with his band Ladykiller for maybe the past 2 years. They even recorded a record with Amanda Duncan engineering.

Amanda Duncan and her "baby guitar"

And I had the honor of providing some piano stylings and technical editing to the project.

Di, when I tell you it’s good, I’m not really driving the point home. This album is so ridiculously incredible. It runs the gamut of tastes, spans the crevasse of opinion, unites Head Bangers Ball with Jeff Buckley. As far as lineup, Justin Gallo lends his guitar work and vocals to the pot and Jon Cabrera provides a third voice, along with some of the most melodic basslines you’ll ever hear. All together, they blend into one diesel piece of machinery made of 3-part harmony and rock.

Now Di, I don’t want to hear about your uncle’s polka-style Bon Jovi tribute band. This is NOT the same. If you’re even BRINGING THAT UP TO ME as part of the conversation, you’re not getting the point. These guys are incredible. And (little piece of trivia) Justin played guitar on much of my current record and Jon has been playing bass in my live band for the past 5 months. You gotta keep a tight knit crew, Di. A TIGHT KNIT CREW, I say.

Well, that’s all. I basically just wanted to inform you of the life- altering music you’ve been missing. You’ve been wasting your days on Take That.

Said I waaant you baaack for goood.

Oh, shake it off, Di. I didn’t mean anything by it. Take That was amazing too…a real game changer…

One love,


The Dairy Queen

June 21, 2011

Dearest Di,

Have I ever told you about my fear of dairy?

Irrational? Maybe. Real? Definitely.

Well…ok. I can’t say that I’m exactly aFRAID of it. But it just grosses me out to the point of retreating from the sight of it.

Oh now, Di. You don’t mean to tell me that your fear of Katherine Heigl isn’t irrational…

What was it? She looks “religiously judgmental?”

mmm. I thought so.

Alright, so let me clarify my position. I don’t care much about cheeses; swiss or cheddar and the like.

I’m talking about soft or liquid dairy. Milk, ricotta cheese, ice cream, milkshakes. These are the evils of which I speak. My fear comes not from the dairy itself, but rather, from the potential SPOILage of the dairy that tends to sneak up on you like a high tide or a few extra pounds.

Picture, if you will, a young baby. All of 1 or 2 years of age. His mother brings him to the boardwalk on a hot day. ‘Wow. What a great day for some  ice cream. Some nice vanilla soft serve,” she says aloud to no one. Mommy purchases said ice cream and proceeds to hand said baby a small cone. But only, oh! It’s melting a little too quickly! As the baby smashes it to his face in an attempt to devour all of the sweet deliciousness, the melted ice cream runs down his chin and onto his shirt/pants/shoes. Mom wipes it off but it’s too hot. It already begins to ferment. 2 hours later, mom notices a foul odor emanating from little baby. It’s the GROSS DAIRY that never gets cleaned all the way and ALWAYS stinks.

The end.

Nice story, Di. Right?

Anywho, that’s how I feel. So say what you will, but some things just never change. Death, taxes, and spilled milk smell.

Walking away and then turning quickly back to implement the stink eye,


Miss Lulu and the Teaspoon Shortage

June 13, 2011

Well Hello Diary!

And how are we today?

Excellent? I figured so.

I’ve come to tell you a bit about what’s been going on in my life.

So, as you know, I just released my album, Diary. Yes. It’s been nothing short of heaven. I worked and held onto it for such a long time that it began to feel like a pregnancy. A giant, public, musical pregnancy. But just as the last trimester goes so quickly, so did the coming of the album.

I had some photos taken and was, through a long and unnecessary chain of events, left with just a couple of usable shots.

No, I don’t want to get into it, Di. It’s not worth the verbiage. Just know that while the shots that we had were cool, they were extremely limited in quantity and versatility and we were forced to make some tough choices on the artwork. Also, I felt that they did not ultimately represent what the music inside the package sounded like. [Sidebar: Additionally, there were no less than 7.5 typos inside the original print, including proper names]

I’m sure you can sympathize with that, Di. It’s kind of like the time that your mom forced you to wear that denim jumpsuit to your junior prom. Even though it was totally rockin’, it just didn’t represent the Diary we all know and love. The Di on the INside.

So the print that currently exists of “The Green Year” (that’s the name of the album) will be a limited edition. There are only 1,000 copies in existence so if you are reading this and own one of them, consider yourself one of the chosen few. I decided that it was necessary to regroup and redesign.

Enter Lucia Holm.

This young lady came to my attention via Nicole Lipman of Hey Cole Presents, and then again via Amanda Duncan. We had all been researching photographers and they showed me some of Lucia’s work. Needless to say, I was immediately sold. Her vision, use of color, composition, storytelling. It was all there in stunning photographical glory! I won’t post her images here but I will send you to her flickr.

So a couple of weeks ago,  she took some photos of ME. Firstly, she and sometime assistant/ talented friend Dave Cruse built a GREEN ROOM for me to inhabit.  So there’s that. Diary, I bet you WISH you had a green room. You WISH. Thanks to Dave and Amanda Duncan for lugging some heavy furniture around in 90 degree heat!

We shot in the Jersey Shore Arts Center in Ocean Grove, right near Asbury Park, NJ. This was one of the most comfortable, attentive shoots I’ve ever been a part of. She let me look through the shots here and there and WOWIE! I thought to myself that if the raw photos looked this good, my brain would explode like a balloon full of soda by the time I saw the edits!

Picture THAT one, Di!

Anyway, I could go on for days. Just do yourself a favor and check out Lucia’s work. Hire her for every important event in your life from now until you die.

…Ok. I know. That’s a little dramatic. But truly, support small business artists. Especially the ones that are doing such undeniably amazing work.

You’ll just have to wait until the big reveal to see the finished photos, Di. No peeking. Look for it later this summer.

Ok. I have to go play the Charlie Brown theme song on piano now.

With a fart noise from the mouth,



January 22, 2011



It’s me! JB.

Don’t you recognize me?…

Oh no…don’t tell me that you’re jealous of Tumblr. Don’t even TELL me!…Do not make that face!

You KNOW I would never ditch you. My Tumblr is just smaller than you so I had to spend some time with her. And thank goodness I did. She’s growing into a beautiful young lady now, but no one could ever replace my DIARY.

THERE it is. That ol’ Diary smile I know so well. I knew you couldn’t stay mad for long.

What have I been up to? Oh, just finishing my ALBUM! I cannot express to you the satisfaction that comes along with completing such an arduous task. I have lived, learned, and walked through the proverbial fire with this piece. You’re gonna LOVE it.

Are you coming to my single release show at the Canal Room on March 4?

…The CANAL ROOM, Di. In New York City…

oh sheesh. I see not much has changed. You really don’t know anything. The Canal Room is only one of my favorite small venues in NY. I hope you didn’t double book with something stupid like your ingrown toenail surgery again. I haven’t been back to New York for a while now so I’m anxious to return…

ok, Di. I think we need to start again. I don’t want to go right back to publicly berating you, but I do need you to look alive and stay on your toes a bit more (the ones withOUT the ingrown nails)…

Stand UP! Stop whining and throwing your arms up and dropping down to the ground every time I try to pick up up. You’re gonna be fine!


…Ok. You can have your juice when we get in the van.


Glad to be back,


I want to come to your house…and play music…

August 27, 2010

Friends and fans…

I want to come play at your (tri-state area) house!

or your apartment

or your dorm

or your common room

or your backyard

Why, you may ask?

Well, I don’t know if you stay aware of my current activities…but I’ve been recording an album. A full length LP. A record, as they say. And it’s been all wine and roses for the most part. But now we’re getting down to the nitty gritty. The mixing phase. I’m set to mix in October and for those of you who have ever researched said phase, it’s costly. So I’ve devised a plan to raise a few bucks this fall, while getting to come perform and hang out with you in the interim.

It’s called a house concert. In case you don’t really understand what that is, watch this video to learn more. It’s from an awesome website called http://www.concertsinyourhome.com

So basically, you invite some friends over for a cozy, private concert, given by me. Everyone can bring food for a potluck dinner, or maybe just snacks and desserts; however you may organize it. You charge admission (usually $10-$15 a head). I play for 1-2 hrs. We all hang out. Everyone has a great time.

The way I see it, we all win because you get to be the host of a really cool, interesting evening out for all of your friends. People will be talking about it for a long time. (Trust me!) AND…the money I make from this series of house concerts will contribute to mixing my album. You will have single handedly helped me take a huge step in my career.

So what do you say, NY? NJ? PA? Do we have a date?

Email me at joanna@joannaburns.com so we can set something up.

…The Chord Progression…

January 13, 2010

Agent Di:

Even though you’re still a gumshoe, I feel it necessary to reveal to you… The Rosetta Stone of  popular music. The richest, most subversive culprit in all of Western music. (God, I wish someone had taken me under their wing when I was a young agent.)

Underneath all of the flashy production (ie the layering of 500 guitars, drum loops, processed vocals, general beeps and boops, and that descending laser sound in every Lady Gaga song) there are 3 very basic, components to a song. I’m not going to tell you what they are because you’re not ready, gumshoe…not YET…but you will be soon.

Among the 3 lives the most beautiful and most dangerous one of the lot. One that will be owned by no one. It is the wild beast of the music kingdom. That illusive culprit…the chord progression!

Take a breath, Agent Di. I know the suspense is pretty high right now. But you must remain calm!

The chord progression will not be tamed. It is a wild-child. Ever-mutating. It is prone to take on the style of whichever sweet young melody its courting this week.

Currently, there are roughly 4 chord progressions that have monopolized much of popular western music. Today, we focus on one such variety. The I-V-vi-IV. For your purposes as a new agent, Di, we’ll put it in civilian terms. “The Douche.”

“The Douche” can be found hidden in plain sight. Below, a youtube video to better demonstrate this phenomenon:

“The Douche” is a real Eve’s Apple. What fine, simple, sleek contours it sports. What slick hair and sharply ironed clothes! No one hates The Douche. How could you? It’s the girl next door! But I challenge you to look deeper, Agent Di.

We’ll debrief at another time as to the whereabouts of the other 3 monopolizers, but until then, this should leave you with plenty of work.

Your mission: Find “The Douche” wherever “The Douche” has set up camp and…then you want to…well then…if you can find a way to…

ok. You actually can’t do anything at all. But you’ll know what you’re hearing next time it rears its ugly head! And you’ll go “Hey! It’s The Douche!”

Then your friends will get mad because they’ll think you’re talking about them. And you’ll say, “No. It’s just this chord progression.”

And they’ll say, “Stop being so pretentious, Di.” But all the while, you’ll know the truth.

Such is the life of an agent.

-Burns out

The 3rd Apparently Annual Winter Break Show

December 30, 2009

My Diary. Hello. How are we today?

It’s that time of year again. That’s right! It’s…


This has been the 3rd year in a row. And I meant to thank you again, Di, for all your help. I know the audience didn’t get to see you because you’re a real behind-the-scenes worker. But you really wowed me with all that heavy lifting! We didn’t have to move a single table thanks to you! To be honest, if we weren’t such friends, I might be intimidated by your imposing physique.

Diary in a bikini...moving her face really fast.

So I do hope you’ll be there this year as well. If not to help, then just to hang out. We had a blast last year and while we’ve changed locations this time around, we are ready for MAXIMUM FUN.

It’s going to be me (JB)

Amanda Duncan, Chris Ayer, and Ladykiller (aka acoustic trio Matt Burns {my bro}, Justin Gallo, and Jon Cabrera).

Saturday January 2


New Point Comfort Fire House

192 Carr Avenue
Keansburg, NJ 07734

All ages

$8 advance/ $10 door (you can email me directly at joanna@joannaburns.com for advanced tickets)

Kids 10 and under get in free

And as always, your cover also gets you unlimited home-baked goods and beverages (while supplies last). Also, Di, it’s a real family environment. We arrange it cafe-style, with tables and chairs and pretty decorations.

You know, you’re a true friend, Diary. Even if you can’t make it, I hope you have a great winter break. I know classes have been hard for you. Hopefully you won’t FLUNK out of EVERYTHING again this semester.



A Song Inspired by The Lovely Bones

December 21, 2009

Di! Di!

It’s me! JB. Remember my song called “Small Things?” …No? You don’t? Well I’ll refresh your memory. A few years back, I read that book called “The Lovely Bones” by Alice Sebold.

No. I know. It was amazing. I can’t even.

The story is basically of a young girl named Susie, who is murdered. She narrates from heaven, looking down on her family as they live their lives, and have various interactions with HER KILLER…yes. They don’t know that he’s her killer but the story evolves into her trying to infiltrate the living world in order to help them solve the crime.

Heavy stuff.

So I lay in my bed one night as a college student and just couldn’t shake Susie’s story. I couldn’t shake her world, Di. It reminded me a lot of Our Town by Thornton Wilder. The idea of seeing what you once had, but not being able to touch it. Seeing the life that you lived so casually and all the small things you took for granted. That’s just heart-breaking to me, Di. I don’t deal well with regret. In fact, I don’t do regret at all.

So my song, “Small Things” touches on those ideas. And interweaves a bit of the actual story as well.

Now I know the movie just came out in limited release. And while “Small Things” was inspired by the book, since I have yet to see the film, let me tell you, Di. I have been waiting for this movie for a good 2 years. I heard that it was going to become a major motion picture in 2008 as I was mixing my EP,

My EP, "Music From & Inspired By"

and even submitted my song for consideration to be included in the film. But sadly, they passed on it.

I would love to show it to Alice Sebold, the author. Because obviously, that ship has sailed, but I would feel some sense of completion knowing that she had at least heard it.

Oh well, Diary. But OH! I should include this little vid I did. (rhyme)

I just used some shots from the trailer and laid my song “Small Things” over it.

I hope you like it.

“The Lovely Bones” will be in wide release on January 15. I know this because I foolishly awaited what was announced as opening day, Dec. 11, only to discover that it was not showing any closer than an hour away. In one theater. At all.

In any event, I can’t WAIT to see it on January 15! I don’t care what any reviews have to say. I feel a very personal connection to this story, Di. And no, I’ve never gone through any of the things that Susie does. It just struck a chord. I’ve been playing my song for so long (rhyme) that I never forgot how the book made me feel. Even 4 years later.

With a coy smile,

jb =)

My Favorite Albums Ever, aka: The Best

October 6, 2009

Hey Diary,

     Lately I’ve been thinking. So many times, I’ve been asked the question: What is your favorite artist? And I don’t know that I can completely answer that. Mostly because of something that I just realized 2 days ago.

     I really love certain albums. Though the artists are, of course, wonderful, it’s the specific albums that have me coming back over and over again. So I though I’d go ahead and post a list for my own mind. And yours since I guess you’re sitting here with me. Ok. Here goes:

Fiona Apple – When the Pawn

Edwin McCain – Misguided Roses

Feist – The Reminder

Rufus Wainwright – Want One

Sarah McLachlan – Surfacing

Nickel Creek – Why Should the Fire Die?

Andrew Lippa – The Wild Party

Rockapella – Don’t Tell Me You Do

Eric Hutchinson – Sounds Like This

Marc Broussard – Carencro

John Mayer – Room For Squares

Dixie Chicks – Fly

Ben Folds Five – Whatever and Ever Amen

Mariah Carey – Merry Christmas

Ingrid Michaelson – Girls and Boys

Ella Fitzgerald – Oh Lady, BeGood! Best of the Gershwin Songbook

Brandi Carlile – The Story

Dave Matthews – Under the Table and Dreaming

Dave Matthews – Live at Red Rocks

Ahrens and Flaherty – Ragtime

Stevie Wonder – The Definitive Collection

There are many more, Di. This will have to be an ever-evolving list. These are just the ones I thought of off the top of my head. I’ll edit this post as  I remember more.

And what’s on YOUR list, Di? Let me guess:







Oh, Diary. So predictable, you are.


High Fives,