Archive for the ‘joanna burns’ Category

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,


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

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 so we can set something up.

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 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,


Mister Ed’s Elephant Museum

September 17, 2009

Dear Diary,

I don’t know what YOU’ve been doing, but I’ve been backpacking through the Swiss Alps with my walrus friend, The Colonel.

JB and The Colonel.

JB and The Colonel.

So it was really hard to keep in touch. There were some rough days there when I didn’t think I would make it through. But The Colonel always pulled me back from the edge. And you know what? I think I’m better for it…

NOT! I was here all along, Diary. I just didn’t call you. So gullible, you are.

But I did do something wasply adventurous. I played a couple of shows a ways off from my native land, in the faraway nation of Waynesburg, Pennsylvania. I was accompanied by my sometime-guitarist, photographer, securitizer, and friend Chucks Pranio. The people of Waynesburg UNIVERSITY (where the schooling happens, I presume) greeted us kindly and allowed me to play my jams in their beautiful performing arts center! It was one of the nicest rooms I’ve ever played in! You know I always prefer a traditional theater, Di. We’ll have to go back again sometime!

Fascinatingly, the nation of Waynesburg goes to bed quite early! So when Chucks and I ventured out to gather some food, we found no open stores or restaurants, and resolved on the only place with any sign of life, the Wendy’s drive-thru.


As you know, I myself do not eat beef or poultry, Diary, so I ordered a baked potato from the voice in the box. It was quick to inform me, though, that all of the baked potatoes had been sold as of 20 minutes prior. Instead I ordered a Caesar salad and some french fries. (Between you and me, Di, I couldn’t see why, if they had french fries, that they couldn’t fashion a single baked potato out of the lot by pressing them together but I didn’t ask questions.) When I did bring my meal back to my hotel, I was surprised to find bacon on my Caesar salad…

But aside from this single time-sensitive incident, I can still say that I honestly enjoyed this new land. Its inhabitants were friendly, kind, and welcoming. And the next morning, Chucks and I set out on a short journey to find an establishment known as the Airport Restaurant.

We did. And we ate there.

Then came the Commonwealth of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. We drove through the Appalachians to meet the angel-voiced singer-songwriter, Christopher Morse. He and I were to perform in nearby Mechanicsburg that night. (It should be noted, Diary, that much of this drive was underscored by David Lucas Burge’s 12-disc master class on Perfect Pitch.

The Eerie David Lucas Burge

The Eerie David Lucas Burge

And yes. It was both wild AND crazy.) I quickly realized, as we entered the city-state, that Gettysburg is one of my new favorite places. It maintains a perfect blend of old and new. Aged and modernized. Crummy and shiny.

I also began to notice a series of rather large signs, all directing us to a venerable wonderland known as Mister Ed’s Elephant Museum.

Mr. Ed and an elephotty.

Mr. Ed and an elephotty.

Once this series began, we knew that we had no choice and would be spiritually required to complete this pilgrimage to mecca.

We drove through the magical entrance, Di, and as promised, it was filled with elephants. But not just elephants. Homemade fudge! And puppets! And whoopie cushions! And an enchanted forest! Basically, Di, it was heaven.

It turns out that Mister Ed (who was not “home” at the moment) had been in business for 34 years! Chucks and I took some photos.

JB and an elephant.

JB and an elephant.

I even bought some chocolate-covered sun flower seeds, which I’m eating RIGHT NOW as I type this!

Once we pulled ourselves away, we ventured off to the cemetery where Lincoln gave his famous Gettysburg Address. Is was quite amazing. And many of the graves are marked with symbols of the freemasons but that’s a whole other can of worms! We knew we were walking on hallowed ground. If you ever get a chance, Di, go. I only wish we could have stayed longer.

Christopher Morse

Christopher Morse.

Christopher Morse.

and his crew of lovely ladies were a wonderful treat to end a great excursion. We played at Juice & Java in the District of Mechanicsburg, though my set was cut brief by some laryngitis which I am still currently fighting. He filled the room with his heavenly sounds. As did Miss Anna De La Motte (with her own heavenly sounds)

I’m tired now, Diary. I’m taking a nap. Writing is exhausting. I’m going to try to nurse myself back to health.

With a gingerly wave,


George Street Playhouse, Bikers, and Your Mom

May 7, 2009

Dear Diary,

     I’m currently listening to my cat Francis howling in the kitchen. She inexplicably cries by herself pretty frequently. If she were a human, she’d be the crazy person in the corner with the smelly hair and the flower-printed top. But I digress.

Guess what’s coming up soon, Di.

…You guessed correctly. My May 15th Show at George Street. I put up another video recently in promotion of it. You should watch it. Don’t feel silly.

I’ve been doing anything and everything one can do in anticipation of a show. You know, like promoting it, organizing it, rehearsing for it, promoting it some more. This is the first time I’ve ever PUT ON an event. Aside from the apparently annual holiday spectaculars I’ve done with Amanda Duncan. Di, it’s scary! There are surprises at every turn!

But I feel confident in my product. That would be me. (How narcissistic…) But it would also be Kate McKinnon. She is funnier than life. How else can it be said? I don’t know.

Oh! And I now consider myself a biker. My friend Chuck and I take extensive bicycle rides along something called the Henry Hudson Trail. I even got a new seat for my  bum! It’s exhilarating. We look at all the other people DRIVING around and laugh at how UNLUCKY they are and how LUCKY WE are. “Car-ies.” That’s what we call them. You know, when you’re a biker, you’re just better than other people. Hey. It’s who we are. It’s in our blood. We can’t help it. So this Saturday, to seal our pro-status, we’ll go riding for a 3rd time. 

Um…You don’t have to remind me, Di. I can see that this blog is going nowhere fast. I just wanted to hit you up and say hello. Tell you what was going on in MY life.

Lest we not forget the time your entire family was killed in a mass motorcycle accident. I posted a sad face on my Twitter account. AND on Facebook. I think you can at least preTEND to care about my life. Thanks.

So anyway, I can’t wait to see you at the show, Diary. It’s going to be divine.

With a Jovial Wave and a Hair Bounce,