Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Photos of Petracovich Practice Session

Our friend Nirav Patel is an amazing photographer. When he asked to come shoot our practice session we were excited but also apologizing for the low light and cramped quarters, and not expecting such works of art.

Max and I were practicing for our San Francisco show at Hotel Utah in October. I love the feel of these, quiet and happy. Like us!

Check out Nirav's blog of the session here.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Silent Night

Free Download of Silent Night (or you can pay and donate to!)

Silent Night is so much about the nights when we would light a fire (which was every night in winter - our main source of heat in my house!). My mom used to sing this song to me as a baby. It's about peacefulness. I sing it now to both of my babies. I send them love.

I love the idea of the light coming into the darkness this time of year. I love that part of the Christmas story, the one I grew up with, of a baby coming to earth to bring us peace.

It seems to be a part of all of the stories of this time of year - lighting the minora, the solstice and the celebration of light returning to our days, celebration also of the deep darkness within. I can do without the talk of sin and even salvation. But I soak up the feeling of being ok with darkness, and loving the bits of light that come through to us.

Night is at 5pm where I live, and it's very dark, but people put tiny lights on their houses. We sit in the dark at night and look at candles. I think of my dearest baby girl who makes me laugh all the time. And I think of my dear baby boy who I miss so much right now, in big waves of love and sadness.

This time of year brings all of these things - the sadnesses, the losses, and the warm gratefulness for coffee and pie with your dad's laugh or your grandma's favorite stories. Both together - the missing and the being with people. It's intense.

I hope there is some of this warmth for you this season. I hope there is some hope. Life can be dark but there are little lights poking through that look so pretty because of the darkness they're surrounded by. It's good to feel all of these things, to be ok with all of it. Not perfection but the interesting shapes we are, with our holes and used up places too. They make us works of art.

Much love to you.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Crepusculo Released in Japan!

It's official! You can buy Crepusculo in stores in Japan and from the Nature Bliss site! We got a bunch of copies in the mail with the lyrics printed in Japanese, as well as a short interview.

It's been an honor to work with Nature Bliss. On their blog they have Crepusculo listed next to Sufjan Stevens and Aimee Mann albums, a thrill to see some of my favorite song writers next to the music we created. I get to see Sufjan on tour next week too! Exciting.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Japanese Release of Petracovich's Crepusculo October10th

Nature Bliss is releasing Crepusculo in Japan on October 10th!
Sufjan Stevensのようなフォーキー・マジカル・ポップ、そしてAimee Mannのような聴き手の心を癒す唄心を持ち合わせた作品「Crepusculo」。1枚のアルバムに潜んだストーリーと、大きな大きな愛に包まれる1枚です。

Here is a translation of what they say about the album.:

"This production/piece of work/performance integrates Sufjan Stevens’ folkie/magical/pop and Aimee Mann’s spirit-quenching heart songs. This album is one of lurking story and veiled big, big belovedness."

You can order the import here!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Show in San Francisco October 19th

to pass along!

Tuesday, October 19th
8pm, $6
with Ash Reiter
Jamie Drake

Tuesday, October 19th!

Get a free ticket if you put up a poster in SF and send us a picture of it!

send me an email at to help!

A great night at a victorian-esque club, some new tunes, drums, bells, vocals, and beer. All the best things in life.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


I can feel it now when I sing,
The difference between now and then.
Between before I became a mama
And after.
Since I held my son in my arms
and had to let him go,
Since that shattering
And re-gathering
I think the pieces have been put back together
with more space between them,
more flexibility, more softness,
more understandings of the hurts behind people's faces
more aware of the joys in things like dahlias.

And when I sing now,
I can hear Otto there.
Which warms my heart so.
Because at first the question was
Where is he?
And it hurt so much not to know.
I have different places I see him
In the stars at night,
Particularly the planets that shine against the darkening blue,
In the sad stories on the news, other people's losses,
I hear him
in the softness of my heart that comes out my breath and in songs.
I am so glad to see him.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Music in the Sacred Trees

Sun fell through the branches in golden spots, the mosquitos glowed where the light was bright.
We sat around the quiet place and looked up, almost loving the silence more than wanting to play.

But Walking in Sunlight made the perfect entrance with "three beautiful voices, a banjo and timeless folk songs" (bay bridged), I had to really hold back not to sing along, they just lift the voice right out of you.

Heather, Max and I had such a beautiful time playing, fingers cold as the evening mist came down, in such a holy spot. Luna fell asleep to "We Must Have Been Birds".

Thank you to all who were able to come and be in this wonderful place. We hope to play at the Botanical Gardens again. It's peaceful just to drive up there and be in the hills with the plants.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Show at UC Berkeley Botanical Gardens

It's called the Redwood Amphitheater. We get to play under the trees on July 29th at 5:30pm!

I grew up under the trees in the woods of Occidental, Ca, about an hour north. The trees were like extra mothers and fathers to me. Deep shade with tufts of light, like clouds floating along the forest floor. Ferns and clover grew under the boughs, some grasses, and they moved and creaked as they swayed in the breeze. We had a hammock to dream on, and watch the bays and the redwoods mingle. On hot days, it was the most comforting scent of warm earth, spicy pine and laurel, dank clay and water from the creek. These are the smells and sounds of growing up, of coming to be in the world.

I sang all the songs of Les Miserables as loud as I could in those woods. And some Ray Charles and Patsy Cline too.

All this to say that playing under redwood trees is like being home. Like playing next to the fire where your grandparents sit.

I'm so excited to bring both together again. Music and trees. Air and song.

We'd love to see you there this Thursday with a picnic blanket and your daydreaming heart, to enjoy the low sun and our best happy tunes. Children, families, all are welcome to enjoy music and nature and support the Gardens all at once!

Garden Grooves: Redwood Grove Concert Series: Folk Rock Night

Performing Arts - Music | July 29 | 5:30-7 p.m. $15, $12 members per concert. Children under 5 Free, Children 5-17 half price. Register by calling 510-643-2755, or by emailing Centennial Drive, Berkeley, CA 94720-5045

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Petracovich At the Pub

I drove through the Sonoma wine country on a beautiful, sunny evening to get to this show. Baby and husband stayed home and my girlfriend and I made the trip together through the green vineyards and the rolling hills and the big grandfather oaks of the place where I live.

A moment of peacefulness and wellness to soak in so many colors and so much beauty.

Parked in the lovely downtown square in Sonoma, CA and hauled my 50 pound keyboard on its wheels with heels on over cobblestones to the venue, Murphy's Irish Pub. A cozy room, I was honored to be the special guest at their weekly open mic.

To play a show just to entertain, to laugh with friends and new friends, to be still with myself and the music, is a breath of fresh air, and helps me get my lungs back. Back from years of seemingly endless promoting, from a couple years of grieving a deep loss, and from the lovely hours of mommyhood of the last 7 months.

And of coarse, it is always awesome to get free food. (Fish tacos with fresh tomato salsa and fresh cole slaw, yummmmm.) You might as well know, I think that food is one of the main reasons to keep living!

Friends came, songwriter friends Dana and Forest and Julia who played some new songs for us. So good to be a part of this community. Thanks Sean and Marty for putting it on! I had a great time.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

How it's been

Since my little Otto died, I haven't written much music. It's like the wind got kicked out of me and it's tough to be in the vulnerable space that was so tender for writing. I'd feel guilty about it accept that there is no energy for that. Just surviving was good enough .

I was lucky to have Crepusculo to release and a project to focus on, cities to travel to, shows to play to get through the craziness of grief at that time. And my blogs and twitters and emails gave me things to focus on outside such pain. But they haven't told the whole picture. And now Luna is here. And I'm getting some legs under me, and I can be more honest.

And my heart is still so tender. So easy to cry when I hear the news about the war or pesticides that cause birth defects, or when I think back to the time Otto was here, and I realize now that this is my time to BE and heal. To watch butterflies in the garden, to play with books, to take in a big, gummy baby smile. To watch and feel music unfold in life. I think I'm baking, and I can't take out the new creations until they're ready to be taken out.

I love music, how a beat vibrates and moves me, how strings draw out my heart, how a good lyric can change my day, and it's nice to appreciate all the amazing work out there without just comparing myself to it, or wishing I'd written it. Just let myself be affected by it.

I hope for the music that comes in the near future to be free from needing to accomplish so much. Life really is short. I want to love it. I want my music to reflect that - the darkness and shadow of it, the light and joy of it. I'm a little intimidated to write when I have been through so much; how can I encapsulate that? I never know what is going to come out, and I suppose I just need to allow it, not plan what it should sound like. That never works anyway.

Thanks for being here for the walk of grief and joy and everything in between. Here we go.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Petracovich loves Whales in the Gulf

They're Sperm Whales to be specific. They can reach 60 feet and are the largest and only endangered marine mammal in the Gulf.
They dive into deep waters, the cold and dark, finding squid to eat, and can stay under the surface for 45 minutes before resurfacing.

People are worried about them because they don't have babies very often, and even if 3 whales are killed due to the oil spill, it could wipe out this population. They were already in danger.

I asked a wise and trusted friend who is very connected to the earth how she is dealing with this spill, the emotion of so much damage. She said, "you have to let your heart break open again and again and again and again."

Sometimes there is so much sadness. Sometimes we hurt, badly hurt, people and things that we love and need. We do it without thinking, without knowing. But that doesn't undo it. So I'm letting myself be sad about this. Trying to be present for all the life there. To take responsibility but not dwell in guilt. To take heart, so all the beings there can take heart. How beautiful they are, this mama and baby.

Sperm whales sing to each other. The whales are also highly social creatures that stay in tight-knit groups for 10 or more years, and mothers typically rely on other adults to look after their young. Listen to their wonderful clicky voices here. Some sounds I think I'll sample!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Petracovich Loves Sea Turtles in the Gulf

Sea Turtles of the Gulf

I once read that the oil in the earth is like her blood. And taking it out is like taking out her blood. And so, if that's true, she is hemorrhaging right now, bleeding into herself, dangerously.

I am so sad. It's not just the oil company's fault; everything I use is somehow related to oil, that's how it got to me, traveled far from China or Mexico or somewhere to my little store and into my hands. I drive a car.

And I am sorry. I'm sorry to the earth, the beautiful place I live, and my brothers and sisters who are fisherman, who are turtles, who are birds, who are fish, who are suffering now.

My thought is that if I think of them, send them my love, my best wishes, it will be something. And even better if I can use a little less, drive less, think more about all that I do.

Each week I'll post an article about a different being who is affected by the oil spill.

Any poetry, art, videos you have to share is welcome and will be posted here!

Thank you.


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Petracovich at Cornerstone Winery 4/3/10

Beautiful tasting room, rich acoustics, and a wonderful glass of Pinot from the Grange Collective.
An audience who listens and laughs, old friends, a cold night with black sky and bright stars.

Got to sing a couple newsongs on the banjo, and tunes on the keys like You Waited For Me that hasn't been played at a live show before (just Max's wedding!)

First show after Luna has come! I missed her and that missing gave me a good heartfelt place to play from. Thanks to Drew Pearce who sets up these intimate house/winery shows.

Joe Rathbone's set was great, just guitar and vocals with no mics or amplifiers, such a natural way to hear music, he's a good performer and his songs have a good hook.

Thanks to all who came, and to new people I got to meet, including Sean and Marty who played awesome renditions of Chocolate Jesus and Folsom Prison with heart-string plucking blues harmonies. Loved it!

And thanks to Hillary for some powerful vocals and the sharing of a small secret we have in common...WESTMONT! Small world.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Goodbye Sparklehorse

As I was about to record the very first Petracovich album in 2001 my friend and producer Tad Wagner popped the Sparklehorse album It's a Wonderful Life into the CD player of his Honda as we went to get lunch. First of all, I think I was sold on just hearing the name Sparklehorse. And the music...

It was a still moment, like when you find a dress that's just your color or see a perfect sit-down spot on a hike. The song "Its' Wonderful Life" is so slow, so patient, childlike, with words that make you remember moments from toddlerhood, with a tinge of the sadness of getting older. "I"m full of bees that died at sea," "I'm the dog that ate your birthday cake." I like the world of this song, I wanted to stay on the ride of it, like a nice but strange dream.

His music can be loud and rocking too, but always maintains an intimacy, a still place that it centers from. The poetry is full of animals and underthings, places, and holds the darkness of life right up to the edge of the beauty. Almost like the beauty hurts.

"good morning my child
stay with me a while
and evaporate in the sun
sometimes it can weigh a ton"
(From Gold Day)

Hearing that he (Mark Linkous) left this world on March 6th... I'm sad. Sad for whatever he had to deal with that was hard, I'm sad for the rest of us who don't get to hear more of his creations, I'm sad for his family. But I don't feel surprised. I think I'm still too much in the grief of my son to be surprised at death; maybe I'm more accepting of it now. It just makes me feel like we are lucky for the good moments we have, and we only have so many of them in this life.

I am grateful to have the music we have from Mark Linkous. Thanks for putting it out there, for giving it to us. It's a generous gift.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Full Moon

Oh, full moon,
I see the white light on the patio
and step out into the cold air in sock feet before bed.
I see the big bare oak tree a few houses down, black branches against the sky,
I hear the voices of geese, flying in the bright of night, coming back north,
Talking to each other in the air.
I smell woodsmoke and see a cloud of it rise from my neighbor's house across the fence.
Inside it's another night of so much the same, the same quality of light,
the same walls and sounds of heater and fridge, the house shifting.
Outside it's air and breeze, insects, stars, forever.
It's the sacred moon tonight,
And even though only a few moments I've spent on the steps outside the kitchen,
I'll take them with me to bed
And imagine away the ceiling
To the world I belong to, that goes and lives and changes every second,
I'll see the big white moon lighting up the land
This one great night a month.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Musical Influences for Petracovich: Aimee Mann

The first time I'd heard of her was in the back of Annie and Gary's toyota corolla, on the 101, headed for Largo in Hollywood, maybe somewhere around 2001..

"What's her name again?" I asked

They laughed and said "Aimee Mann".

Gary is pretty much single-handedly responsible for any knowledge I have of current music, and we trusted him enough to go to this concert without knowing the singer already.

I love Largo, tables right up close to the stage to see amazing artists. We had such great seats, and I was blown away by how much she could convey with so little effort, how she could BE up there and emanate what she meant without over-acting or over-singing. It was beautiful.

And on the way home to Carpinteria, I listened to the songs with new ears, and had a whole new inspiration. And I thought about writing differently. I wanted things to fit together so carefully and yet flow so well, wanted the words to make good shapes in my mouth, to like the way my mouth felt singing them.

I was listening to a few of her albums today and thinking, she is one of the best songwriters ever. As my husband puts it, she knows how to turn a phrase. Her melodies, her wit, and the craft of placing all the elements together so well are pretty much impeccable.

If you haven't listened, please do. If you don't like it at first, keep listening. She's one of the best ever.

Some of my favorite songs:
Save Me
That's Just What You Are
It's Not

Friday, February 19, 2010

For Otto and Luna

What is real?
Feeling popular? Thin? Getting big checks? Lots of people in a room who say your name at the door before they get their wrist stamped and their ID's out? Feeling successful? Trying so hard, trying so hard?
Or bees in the grass
Or my baby's hands while she is nursing, wrapping around themselves like a prayer, swaying around like a celebration, loving this pure food, just loving.
The shadows from the trees on the living room floor
Pictures of my son, my beloved gone one,
My broken heart,
My heart so full.
I feel like being quiet
And letting all these things be.
I feel like letting go of branding
and being interesting
and loud and passionate and funny.
I feel like going into the lacy dark hold of being one who brought life forward
And let life go;
I feel like giving up
And giving into this full hearted love
This simplest wish
to be a mama.
Let all songs sing from here.
Let them come when they come.
Let them wrap themselves around
Like the sweet pea vines I planted
And I'll hold out my arms for them
And watch them curl and grow
From this happier place.
To be a mom who holds things in her mind and heart
even when she can't get them to the page or the piano
I feel like not trying so hard
And being happy.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

My daughter Luna

I just realized, now that she is 12 weeks old, that I never posted a birth announcement on the blog!

So here it is: LUNA IS BORN!!! And healthy and doing so well. I'm sooooo happy. She was born on November 18th, 2009 and cried right away, given to my arms to hold and kiss and never give up.

It has been so healing to have her. She looks like her brother, Otto, and this makes me miss him so much and yet, it gives me a chance to love him some more, and talk to him when I talk to her. She's a happy baby, we spend most of our time together. I sing to her all the time, songs that go:

Luna, luna luna baloona, luna luna luna baboona, luna luna lovely luna Luna halleluna.

The melodies are great, and I think the lyrics are pretty cool too.

I've played piano for her and she kicks and smiles and cries. She's amazing.

I'll be learning how to arrange things so I can write music and take care of her, and I'm not worried about how it will work out, because my heart is so full. I'm used to years of waking up with anxiety, a little melancholy, and now I wake up to a laughing little one who I love so much. It's quite a change.

I thank her for changing my view of life, of the sun, the grass, the clouds. She gets very quiet and observant when we go outside, the built in appreciation of the sacred earth. I love her wonderment and passion over the simplest things in life: eating, and being together.

Much more about her soon.

Much love to you all!
Jessica and Ryan and Otto Luna and

Sunday, February 7, 2010

This Paper Boat

This Paper Boat
by Ted Kooser

Carefully placed upon the future,
it tips from the breeze and skims away,
frail thing of words, this valentine,
so far to sail. And if you find it
caught in the reeds, its message blurred,
the thought that you are holding it
a moment is enough for me.

This poem feels so much like life to easily blown into places we don't expect. Bringing us to people we didn't think we'd know, and love, and then at the end, let go. I don't know about you, but I often ask why I'm here. And why we love so much just to have to let everything we love go at the end? Somehow this poem uses just the right words for me to feel satisfied for a moment about being a paper boat on water, my message blurred, and held for a moment by someone I love.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Petracovich Opening for Nick Flynn - The Ticking is the Bomb

Last night, with my 10 week baby in tow - Ryan and I packed the car and headed for the city of San Francisco, to play some banjo tunes to start off Nick Flynn's reading of his new book, The Ticking is the Bomb.

After 4 months of nesting (and wonderful months they have been) it was exciting to drive over the Golden Gate bridge and to the Zen Center for the reading, to see the bright lights of the city over the Bay.

We were greeted with smiles by Susan, a warm woman from the Zen Center, and Nick himself, with a big smile and hug. We met him several years ago on tour, in Tucson, where he happened to be at a show. We've kept in touch through email, and it's a great compliment to me that he's listened to the music while writing, since his books have inspired songs of mine as well. (Particularly Heaven Help the Day from Crepusculo was inspired by his amazing memoir Another Bullshit Night in Suck City.)

After nursing Luna I grabbed the banjo, headed up to the stage, tuned and started to sing. Eyes closed, relaxed, happy to get to be doing what I love, I thought of the full moon outside, I thought of my son Otto and my daughter Luna, I thought, "I just want to be in this place, of contentment with the world."

The people in the audience quieted, and listened. And this is rare and always feels wonderful and kind, to be able to present a song from my heart to people who accept it gracefully. Thank you! I think I should always play for literary Buddhists. It's a change from the bar scene.

To play for my little girl, see her in the audience, sitting thoughtfully in her daddy's lap, brought me straight to the center of my happy heart. She makes me so happy, everything else is just extra, and I can really enjoy it.

Nick Flynn read from his new book, about his upcoming fatherhood (his daughter is now 2) and the torture of Abu Ghraib. He was writing about Abu Ghraib when his daughter was conceived, and the two experiences ran together, opening up new places in his heart, of love and fear, which informed the stories he heard from those who survived torture. I can't WAIT to read it.

For someone who has gone through much loss and disappointment in life, he is a sparkly person, a warm person, someone I admire for his keep-goingness in life as well as his story-telling.

And so went my first outing as a second-time mama, and I'm so glad we rallied to do it.