Monday, December 7, 2009

Petracovich Mockingbird on Melrose Place 12/8/09

Listen to
Mockingbird (free)

This song is featured on the 12/8 episode of Melrose Place in the scene where a dude breaks up with his woman to pursue his career. Who knew a sweet lullaby about a bird would mingle with Hollywood?

So, mockingbirds get their name because they imitate sounds they hear, like phones or tools or other birds. They're pretty cool. Could you do me a favor and imitate them? Retweet my tweets about this? Woohoo we'll get the word out!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Echoes of songs: PHASE ONE of writing

After I finish an album, there is an intimidating space.
I've talked and written about and played and played the last album,
and there is only silence ahead for the next.
Every time I wonder , "How did I do that?", and then I remember.
I went into the garden and stared.
I stared, for the hours I set aside for music, as long as I needed to.
To get over the fear, to be in the space, to stop trying.
To let things float in.
This time, I wait for my baby to come.
I have hours to spend, with tiredness, dreaminess, tears, contractions that pull me into a deep dark.
I remember to lift off the pressure of writing anything "usable".
Just sound
Just play.
And of course, press record.

I just worked on a piece, the piano sounding loud in G, singing, singing.
and then stopped to drink water and pay some bills.
As I answered an email, the song comes back to me in echoes,
It echoes like a distant siren, music from inside another house.
And I want to open it again, and add to it.
I am happy that I remembered how to do this!
The biggest and most joyous part of writing,
Letting ideas evaporate off of me, without my mind involved at all.
The first phase, just letting it out.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Touching Review from the Feminist Review

Feminist Review
The Feminist Review is a great bunch of writers and editors from around the world who review books, albums, by communities that remain on the margin. I'm really liking their recommendations and am honored to be included in their reviews. This one brought tears to my eyes, it's hard for me to hear about others' losses, to know that they keep going in the world. But I am so honored to be any part of a healing process for that. Feels good.


It’s a treasure to stumble upon new music that for one reason or another resonates deeply within you. I selected Crepusculo after learning that Petracovich singer Jessica Peters Malmberg had made the album while pregnant, and then tragically lost her son shortly after he was born. Grieving a recent miscarriage myself, Crepusculo did for me what only those rare special albums can: it comforted me, let me cry, helped me heal, and taught me to create a place in my heart for what I had lost.

Crepusculo (Spanish for “twilight”) utilizes the standard drums, guitar, and bass setup and is richly textured with a multitude of other instruments, including piano, cello, trumpet, harmonium, and banjo. Described as folk pop, this latest album from Petracovich accomplishes an earthiness that brings each song to life. The songs are powerful, thanks to masterful lyrics and Malmberg’s stunning voice that is at times soaring and smooth and later hushed and reverent.

“Heaven Help the Day” is the opening track, and it begins with an upbeat piano that propels the song to a quick crescendo. It’s a perfect match for the empowering lyrics about an absent father. Malmberg warns the father to beware coming back to the family, and if he does, she sings “I’d make you love me then I’d leave you all alone.” A compelling and driving banjo opens “Sleep It Off/Lie Down,” in which Malmberg sings out a challenge to “try to make me unsad/just try making me glad.” It’s a song that wonderfully depicts embracing sadness and revels in the beauty of fully experiencing human emotion.

While Crepusculo undeniably deals with painful losses, the beauty of the album is that there’s a sense of lightness and fun throughout the record. For example, in “San Rafael,” Malmberg dreamily imagines floating above traffic and “over dew and honey grass and sleeping deer; over rollers, hills with backs like dinosaurs.” A sense of whimsy threads itself through many of the songs.

What the music in this album accomplishes is a spirit of graciousness. It’s a snapshot of what it means to be alive, and that is a welcome solace. Crepusculo is an album for everyone that offers an unforgettable joy listening to each song as it magically unfolds.

Review by Beverly Jenkins-Crockett

Comment on Review HERE

Monday, November 9, 2009

Secret Songsketch: You Waited For Me

Download You Waited For Me

I wrote this song for Max's wedding, ( Max, the excellent drummer for Petracovich.) It was an honor to be asked to play, and to write a song for your friend that isn't total cheese is no easy task, but I love how it turned out.

This tune a mix of inspirations of Max and Ashley's 10 years and my own love story (I met my husband in Europe when in a wheelchair and he was the crazy guy climbing on everything.) It's all done on one mic on my home piano, captures a summer moment, and all my gratefulness for my dear love. Free DOWNLOAD

Heather, the wonderful cellist, and I played it on a beautiful July day in the redwoods with speakers 100 feet up the trees, the sounds coming down from the heavens, it was like fairyland.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Secret Words - Going to the Ocean

I wish I were going to the ocean today
To put my feet in water too cold for skin
And feel the expanse of breathing out forever

The gray sky going and going,
The spray on my face, telling me things
My heart seems to understand but not my mind,

Inviting me in, wanting me, and the baby inside.
I'd stand on the edge of the S shaped curve
And back away when it surges towards us,

The foam gentle on my feet
and nothing more powerful just yards away and down,
a growling undertow like a mama tiger.

Jessica Peters Malmberg

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Secret Songsketch: Heartbeat

Download tune

The view outside my window changes every day as the Fall comes in.
Time with music to dream.
Time with a little baby in my belly.

I'd like to share these sketches as they come, rather than keep them hidden for so long.
And with them, the view outside my window,
and a couple of snapshots into life at the time.

The drum sounds feel like heartbeats to me, and I'm spending a lot of time listening to my baby's heartbeat these days, and she listens to mine. The beginning of our lives are all to the tune of the wonderful, thuddy rhythm of our mama's hearts. It felt very comforting to go into these sounds at this time of my life, 34 weeks pregnant.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

New Video: Waterhouse

Director Jared Ingram shot this video for Petracovich a few years ago. He says "the song made me think of rain - the kind that starts with a few drops on the ground. And you wonder, is it raining? Did I just feel something? Then it starts to pour and you run for cover. And before you know it, the rain is gone. The sun comes out. And you just wanna take a nap."

The song, Waterhouse (from Petracovich's first album, Blue Cotton Skin) comes from a dream I had, of being a house, that was slowly filling up with water. It was a peaceful feeling, of blue coming in, taking out all of the contents, and then the house itself floating away. Being dismantled slowly and unemotionally.

I found the kalimba, an African thumb piano, to bring the mood of metal and wood, plunky like water falling, and Andrew Gikaumakus on the drums, big and hollow. Tad Wagner produced the tune.

My Dad is a photographer, but I'm still camera shy, and having several cameras at once, oooh, I had to really center myself. I sang along, at various speeds of the music, some slowed down, some speeded up, so Jared could edit with different speeds. It was a good challenge, fun, a little out of my comfort zone to be on camera, but that's always good. And Jared's a great director, low key, able to see the funny.

We started the shoot, the paint drippers started dripping from above, little tongues of cool paint hitting my hair, and then growing in globules and dumpings, it tasted chalky, a little stingy in the eyes, but kind of freeing just to let it happen, to get it all over me and act like it was the most normal thing.

And then, go to the bathroom, wash it out of my hair in a cold-water sink, and do it all over again for more footage!

I loved Jared's ideas, the washed out lighting, the use of color as a main theme, the drops that fall in time to the music.

When I went to the salon to get my hair cut, they said, "WHAT did you do to your hair?" It's all worth it for the glory of show biz.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Live on KCRW, Please Welcome, Petracovich!

(Watch the whole performance of Petracovich performing on KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectcic at

A thrill and honor to play on the piano Nina Simone played, in the studio that all our heroes have played songs. To play with a band of great musicians and friends.

We all met the day before, in Simi Valley at our friend Jako's studio to practice up

We crashed in Santa Monica, the Pacific Sands Motel in the family room, 3 double beds lined up in a row, bringing to mind Goldylocks, a good giggle, some last minute cereal, a walk on the pier, and then, tossing and turning...

Alarm, heart race, get dressed, we got to the meeting place ON TIME, it's happening! A beautiful, smoothe piano, an amazingly skilled and knowledgible sound person, Ray, so calm and comfortable, we set up and waited.

The studios are underground, the air is cool, there are rooms and rooms of NPR people, and it's clean and organized, different than the college stations we usually hang out at! Even tea and coffee!

And soon, there were 15 seconds to take-off.

Deep breath, and play.

The interview with Jason Bentley was so grounded, he asked such touching questions and was able to handle the conversation about my son, and the music now. I think he's so good at what he does, and seems to have a warm heart. I really appreciated that.

Play some more, the guys sound SOO great! Max Diez on the drums, Tad Wagner on guitar, Cliff Hayes on bass, we had a blast playing together. I'm so proud and amazed at their skills.

We had a celebration lunch of giddiness afterward, so happy that it was GOOD and done, and went to the pool for a good cool-off swim and slept before the show that night at Silverlake Lounge.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Tour Diary: Driving home from LA, 8/11/09

We woke up from the end of the Crepusculo So. Cal tour on the floor of dear Angela's lovely bungalow and headed off for breakfast with another dear friend, J. Michael Walker, an LA artist/painter/photographer/writer, to see his studio and talk. Beautiful work of saints and women as they are: powerful, strong within, beautiful in the older stages.

Here we go on the road, endless straight and sandy flats around us - with some David Sedaris weaving in and out of my half dreams, Max and Ryan's talks about music, so sleepy, hot in the back seat when it's 105 outside... we need gas, and ..HALELUJAH!!! Organs play, streams of light, my pregnant self spots a FOSTERS FREEZE... not only cold, but ice cream, glory be, ice cream!! And a place to sit and eat it. This is a celebration, as you can easily see from these glamorous photos. (normally I'm a Double Rainbow gal, but I5 changes everything.)

A few more hours up the 5 and we turn west on the 580 and start to feel the Bay - the moistness, the cooling. It goes from 105 to 68 in about an hour and a half. We tearfully drop off drummer Max to his lovely home in Berkeley and his amazing wife Ashley, and head into FOG.

Fog that is most welcome after blazing sun.

This is a train in Richmond as we sat in a bit of traffic getting on the Richmond Bridge.

Home, for now.

Sign up for the Petracovich newsletter at for tunes, tours and good times.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tour Diary - LA and Hotel Cafe - 8/10/09

I have come to love Los Angeles - the orange and pink houses in echo park, colorful murals in silverlake, food of all ethnicities, art everywhere, bungalows, apartments named something oceany with cursive writing. Even goats and chickens in yards 10 min. from downtown.

It is overcoming the feeling of desperate need to make it here, the glitz and over-acting with guitar, the head shots and sadness. There is a lot of heart as well, there is a lot of everything.

We made it down from Santa Barbara after eating a WONDERFUL healthy meal cooked by my friend Maya, and headed to Hotel Cafe , beautifully rennovated since I was last there, all candles and lovely tables, and a lot more room.

I've played here before and know that, like most clubs in LA, you have to work really hard to get people out. It's so easy to play to an empty room, even after promoting, and it was a Monday night. I geared up for anything - 4 people, 40, we'll have a good time and do our best.

Thank you thank you to all of you who answered our call to spread the word, because we had a FULL ROOM!
Thank you for driving, for telling friends, for making it happen. It felt wonderful.

My sister Grace Peters joined us on harmonium and vocals, and sounded so beautiful. It was so special to have her there singing and adding sweetness and life. A 4 piece with Tad on guitar, Max on drums and me doing my thing, it was a wonderful way to end this leg of the tour. Thanks for making a little dream come true, thanks for being there LA!!!

Adrina Griffin started the show with her CD release. She called me about a week before the show and told me she'd be playing, strange because we were roommates about 11 years ago, playing on the same house piano. Small world.

Alex and Sam played just before us, and I loved their tunes, easy and smooth, well-played, it felt great to be sharing the bill with them.

Angela Correa is one of my favorite songwriters, and she was letting it go with her great band, singing high and low and full of fire. Her new album, Spark, Burn, Fade, is on itunes. (She also let us sleep at her house and fed me tofu so I quench my amazing, endless ability to eat for two.)

So nice to talk to so many people after the show, to meet some that have been listening a long time and just now made it out. To hang out with my sister Grace and be silly, to bask in the glow of a night that went so well. The sound was awesome, the crowd listening, it was a lovely culmination of work and time and driving.

Thank you to the club for being so professional and smooth, for having us down. We had a blast!

Tour Diary: Santa Barbara - Return to Old Home 8/8/09

After a lovely family breakfast in Visalia,we squeezed into the car, crossed the grapevine, ate burritos in a mexican restaurant with yellow walls and red seats, we landed in Santa Barbara, CA, the town where we lived for 12 years before moving to the Bay Area, 7 hours north.
Lovely to be back in the ocean breeze, bouganvillea, mountains against the sea and home of the Miramar Hotel.

Tad Wagner joined us tonight on guitar. He produced the first two albums of Petracovich (blue cotton skin and We Are Wyoming) , and played guitars and various atmospheres on all of them, and added SUCH great flavor to the show. I've always wanted to have him join the live performance and it's FINALLY happened and just as great as I thought. We played at the Mercury Lounge, purple walls, couches for lounging, great vibe and great people. The great college indie station KCSB sponsored the show. THANK YOU KCSB!! (this photo by Chris Mundell)

I had a virtual beer with many old friends, since I can't drink anything these days, but felt giddy on the goodness of seeing smiling eyes.

The SPIRES opened the show, a great trio whose melodies blend shimmers of the Smiths, the Beatles and their own enthusiastic foot-tapping. Their new sound and album are pleasing to ear and heart. They're good people too, I always just like chatting with them, catching up. Plus they let me borrow their cushy drum stool to sit on.

We had a blast playing for a great crowd, thank you all so much for coming out, bringing friends, driving, long distances to be there. We loved playing for you.

Ted Mills wrote a great interview/review with Petracovich for the Santa Barbara News Press. You can read it here.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

You Are This Perfect - Story Behind the Song


The Nord Lead sprouted this song - a rhythmic pattern of smooth, round tones. I recorded a couple of passes just lost in its world, in the key of F. Months later, I came back to it, excited to put the headphones on, sit in front of the mic and see what images came.

Set - bus full of students in France, the end of a semester-long trip to Europe, 6am. I look into a quiet pink sunrise and see a plane flying over fields - and then, bloop, bloop, bloop, para-troopers silently pop out of the plane and float down.

This scene came strongly to my mind as I listened to the music, and then it was as though I was one of them - a dad, a plain ol' guy, in a war, jumping out of a plane, there because he had to be, noticing a sunrise, thinking of his family, his child. The world still turning, sun still rising, normally, whatever the humans had cooked up, whatever dangers and sadnesses, the dawn still beautiful, the dew still touching fields, the clouds still beautiful with sunrise. In my mind's eye, this dad was waiting in line, singing in his heart to his boy before he flies.

My husband's grandfather was shot in the air in WWII, his daughter in her mama's belly, never to meet him. I thought of her as I sang this song, of this man, a dear man, fighting in this big war, who'd rather be home. It brought tears as the song came out.

I recorded it in Portland, pregnant, and couldn't get through the vocals without breaking down. John Askew, recording, was so kind and patient, letting me cry, thinking of ways to get through the song, to be in that space and still sing. I stayed where I was, and with a powerful mic, let the notes and words come out in a whisper, in that sadness and love.

A few months later I would be singing it to my boy, my sweet son, Otto. It seemed that all along it was written for him, for us. In the end, it was me, the parent, who would stay and my boy who would be the one moving into the next world. But me falling into land-mines just the same. Otto left us at dawn, and it was peaceful and sacred, just like the song. It is his song now. And I love getting to sing it to him with love and softness, a moment between us, wherever he is now, that tenderness will always be with me.

My baby boy
Drifting on the world I
Think of you as I
Fall into landmines

Baby boy
I think of your soft hair
I'm floating through morning
To touch on the fields

You are this perfect
The morning sun shines on the dew
Of the flowers

It's just a morning
It's just a sunrise
If it is my last one
I would have you close to me.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tour Diary - Visalia - Music Scene Gone Wild

(Well, place of my mom and grandparents for a few decades.)

Ry and I got to walk around Berkeley this morning, full of fuscias and bouganvillea and easy sun. Packed up the car with 3 adults, full drum kit, keys, harmonium, there was not a spare inch. The guys figured it out - a masterpiece of packing.

As a kid this was my favorite part of the drive - windmills - part robot, part poetry on golden hillsides. I5 is full of flat land with awesome geometry of farm stuff.

We get to Visalia, a nice 80 degrees, a little early, and head over for a walk to the 99cent store. At the perfect moment, when my mood was dipping a little low (tired/pregnant/long drive/missing Otto) this sang came wafting through air-conditioned speakers: Turn on Your Heart Light . Cheesy but teary, I knew it was just for me. My sister Jody used to put it on the record player when we were little, and sang it passionately. Maybe it was my boy telling me to keep my chin up, and I made an effort, and Ryan and Max being pretty silly helped. And the lady in front of me buying a romance called Truly, Madly, Viking helped too. Sexy.

We played at Howie and Sons, a pizza place that's been around forever with a great stage in the game room. Visalia has an amazing music scene, thanks to Aaron Gomes of Sound n Vision who realized that most touring bands pass through the area from SF to LA, and has created a great new bunch of venues to play at for local and traveling artists. I so admire people who put so much work into making something possible - for listeners, for players, and it's grown and grown. So great for us to show up in a town we've never played and have 60 people in the room listening, just because they're into music. Yes!

The drums and piano bass filled the room, a nice thump after our quiet SF radio set the night before. And we got to eat a ton of pizza which is nice for a certain food-obsessed pregnant woman who plays piano.

It was an all-ages show, and I loved hearing their voices and questions: my favorite as we started "Others" with it's nord synths: "Daddy, how does she make that SOUND?" Made me happy.

This is Aaron and Aaron, played a great couple of tunes to open the show, nice rhythms, melodies, atmospheres.

Whiskey and the Devil Chaplain finished off the night with some foot-stomping good times and their CD release.

Tour Diary - San Francisco's Pirate Cat Radio

Listen (scroll forward a few min)

Thursday, August 6th - Back home from the northwest, Ryan and I crossed the Golden Gate Bridge to San Francisco for a gig at Pirate Cat Radio, 87.9 fm. Max met us there after a short hop from Berkeley.

It's in a cafe that also includes a radio station, independent and full of personality, a couch, a piano, and espresso with donuts of the bacon flavor if so desired.

We set up and played a quiet group of songs - there's some sound ordinance issues, Max had to play the drums like gramma was sleeping next door, so we shifted to the situation and it still came out nice. You got to be flexible.

Listen to our set here. To hear us, scroll forward about 5 min.

I was little melancholy this night. It was the beginning of August, and we drove near UCSF where Otto was treated, almost a year ago. It brought many sensory memories back. This is his birthday month, and we miss him so much. Strange to drive by the places we made ourselves walk to get some air, the same time of night, same time of year when our hearts were so blasted. And the earth keeps turning, and he is still with us.

And the hearing the drums helps, and singing helps, and I think that both my babies like rocking out, they like when their mama is happy. The little one in utero sleeps when we play! I think Max will have to come over whenever it's naptime and play her to sleep.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Tour Diary - Eugene Eugene, Sweetest Town I Ever Seen 7/31/09

It was wonderful to wake up with sister Jody and eat some of the blueberries she'd picked. I'd never really tasted a blueberry till these big round ones from Corvalis. Ummm, good.

We got to meet John Askew for breakfast, he produced and recorded our album Crepusculo last year, and talked of touring, the work, the heartbreak and good friends, the life, how there's no one way to do things, with music and life. Max and I both felt inspired and grounded after talking. Overall: enjoy life, do what you love if you can, don't think too much about it all. Be here, present, as much as you can.

Fit in a nap and a swim, and off to Eugene for a live radio performance. But oh no, wait, what is this? the 405 is a parking lot at 1:45? Why aren't we moving? Jessica starting to panic, Max trying to keep them calm, Jessica starting to say bad words, blood pressure rising, we need to be at KLCC in Eugene at 3:45, and we've gone 5 miles in 40 min. Hmm, not good. We call, our live interview and playing becomes a phone interview and.. phew, embarrassing but the interview was great - awesome to speak to such a professional.

Had a wonderful, healthy dinner with friends in their wooded home before heading to the Wandering Goat to load in. We got directions and got lost pretty soon afterward, switched to the beloved iphone for help. A mysterious bridge came up as we became a few minutes late, a bridge leading to a highway instead of our road, and I took it! Adventure! Got off the highway to another highway, leading to a good 15 min. of more lostness. When we finally found our bearings, got to the venue, we were greeted with the lowering of white boards and flashing red lights, and the long, loud whistle of a slow train a'comin. 20 feet from the venue, we waited another 5 or more minutes for the train to cross.

Jessica: blood pressure rising. Max: it's all ok, it'll be fine. Enter Wandering Goat, find sound guy, and he says, "Oh, I didn't think you'd be here so early."

My husband laughed and laughed as I related the story. "SEE!" He says. I hate being late and I was late twice that day. Lesson thoroughly rubbed in.

I loved playing this show to wonderful, listening, friendly people. Cliff came down and joined Max and I for a nice set. We got a lovely review called "Wistful Grace" in Eugene Weekly. The next band, Dead Western was haunting, sad, pretty, strange. Please listen - Max and I both bought their vinyl recordings, a pleasure to sit and be lulled and searched by these slow tunes. A good group of guys, talented and kind.

My friend Jenny, loyal Eugene Petracovich fan!

On home (well, our friend's home) through the woods with a nearly full moon, and the promise of home tomorrow.

Next day, passing Mt. Shasta in CA

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tour Diary - Portlandia

We left my dear cousin Alex in Seattle, after a walk around their neighborhood and breakfast at a bakery, holding my ears as the Blue Angels made circle after circle around us. Loud FAST. Got a walk in before it was unbearable outside - in by 10am and still already sweaty. Alex's dog kept flopping down in the shade, refusing to go any further before a nice rest.

The drive to Portland was smooth - no traffic! No sitting for an hour in 105 with ac only working 30 sec at a time! Hallelujah! We met Cliff - awesome bass player - first to practice before the show. This great house was under a beautiful water tower. Felt like a fairy land because it makes you small.

Off to Berbati's - load in, hot, set up, hot, eat dinner, nice breeze outside. My wonderful sister Jody came to meet us and help with everything. The club was big and beautiful, the sound clear

I read the review in the Mercury, and was stunned for a bit. It's the best review Petracovich has gotten from this often snide paper. But it was the first time I'd seen my son Otto's name in print, and it hit me hard in a way I didn't expect, melding worlds - this big glitzy club, me as a performer, me as a mama with a broken heart. I didn't know how to combine them. I'm glad I'm telling his story, this beautiful boy, but it's also an intense thing to share, to put out there, and then go on stage. There's no right way to do it.

So I had a good cry, and then went up and played. Max and Cliff made a full sound, when they first came in, a smile came over me, and it was fun from then on out. (Including the last 30 sec. of a tune where the Nord slowly fell onto my main piano and I played only with my left hand) We fixed it. Read the Oregonion review of the show here

The show started much later than we were told - thanks to dear friends who came and waited! I thought it would be earlier too. Carcrashlander played a beautiful set - I love Cory's tunes, and all the players - the trumpet takes the cake.

Speaking of cake - Voodoo donuts is right next door and I got my first taste - they make these delectables in all sorts of shapes and sizes - all SORTS. We were fairly tame with these...I'll be adding more shots of petracovich on-stage in a couple days. Check in!