Reflections on the New Year


I can’t lie to you. 2015 was a pretty rough year for the Raison D’Etre family. In a line of pretty rough years beginning in 2013. Yet, somehow, we kept singing.  I could list for you all the life events that did not go as we would have hoped, but frankly, since I live with(or near) those realities every day, I do not need to be reminded.  To quote Jackson Browne:


Don’t confront me with my failures.

I have not forgotten them.

And certainly, I would not classify most of the hurdles fate has thrown in our path as failures. They are more accurately described as challenges. And everybody gets their share of challenges somewhere along the path.


I picked up this little card at my last yoga session for 2015. Every year our teacher brings in some inspirational cards for her students to pick up randomly on the way out the door.  Mine is below.  I didn’t think much about it when I picked it up, but it is an excellent meditation for the new year.


I rejoice in what I have…

1. In 2015 Raison D’Etre was able to perform at some wonderful events and venues:


SWAN DAY 2015 with Ma Crow and the Lady Slippers at Women Writing for (a) Change organized by Women’s Way of OH/KY

Live@Lunch at Christ Cathedral

New Friends Luncheon Concert at the Syndicate

We played for the PIRA 501 reunion in Northern Kentucky—paratroopers from WWII and their proud families.

Violet and Roberta hosted a showcase room at SERFA in North Carolina and showcased in two others. Roberta served as Co-Director of the SERFA Conference for 2015 and continued her role as “guerrilla showcase wrangler.”

Violet and Roberta played at set of Roberta’s originals at 3rd Friday Folk in Somerset, KY

Violet and Roberta took a dulcimer workshop from Lorinda Jones at Berea’s Learnshops in July.

The trio continued to play several dates at College Hill Coffee Company(our favorite coffee establishment.)

We played at Brighton Center’s joyous community celebration in Newport.

We sang as cowgirls for six weekends at the Old West Festival in Ohio.

We showcased at Kentucky Arts Council’s Master Class event in October.

Roberta took her solo show “The Story Behind the Song” to Coffeyville, KS for three days.

Violet and Roberta did a “Christmas Belles” tour of Creative Aging venues for December. 

We performed our Christmas tunes and other selections at Kentucky’s most beautiful gift shop, the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea.

Vickie joined us for “Singing, Swinging New Year” at Bethel Woods.

We continued our caroling role at Horizon Community Church’s 8 inspiring Christmas Eve services as a cappella carolers.

We collaborated with Falcon Theatre and Campbell County Library on a sold-out production of “Twain by the Tale.”


I know that fresh new experiences are always ahead…

We are already booked for Bayley Place’s New Year’s Eve celebration for 2016.  That made us giggle with delight since they do a proper balloon drop the day before at around 2:30 pm.

We are very excited to be providing the music for Falcon Theatre/Campbell County Public Library’s Signature Series Event, “Many-Storied House” on January 15 at 7 pm. This is a reader’s theatre adaptation of Kentucky Poet Laureate George Ella Lyon’s poignant poetry collection about her childhood home. The poet will be in attendance for a book signing and has contributed an original song called “Lineage” to the production.


We have two tracks on the current volume of Acoustic Rainbow Sampler, sent out to over 1200 roots/folk Djs world-wide.  They are just beginning to report back to the Sampler crew.


We continue to place songs with Women of Substance Radio for the upcoming Valentine’s show and the weekly podcasts.


I greet the new with open arms…

Roberta is part of the Kohler Dementia Project to bring music to nursing home residents who would not normally be able to attend regularly scheduled music programs.  This program is administered by Creative Aging Cincinnati with the generous donations from the Kohler Family. Roberta visits Alois Alzheimer Center monthly, as does Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra violinist, Stacey Woolley. 


I trust life to be wonderful…

Honestly, we are never happier than when we are singing. Even in the face of some very challenging circumstances, music takes us to a better place, the golden still point where life truly happens.



Happy 2016 to you. Here’s hoping our paths cross in the year ahead.


Covers, Compilation, Coffee Houses, and Cheer


Greetings, Raison Family,


We are nearing the end of our 25th year as a folk trio.  Thanks to everyone who has answered a quiz question, stopped by at a concert to congratulate us on the “long strange trip,” or who occasionally drops us a line to let us know you are still out there raising on. For the rest of this Silver Anniversary Year, we have some public gigs we hope you can attend and a few bits of exciting news to share.


Covers and Compilations


Our latest album, “So Dear,” includes our usual mix of originals, traditional, and vintage covers. You can listen to samples of the track list at this link or even submit a review at that link if you like what you hear. We are always happy to award prizes from our catalogue to friends who submit reviews. Just e-mail us that you did, and select a prize:


Christmas Belles CD

Christmas Belles Download Card(whole album)

One Small Step CD (Roberta’s solo album of original tunes with Richard Putnam on keys.)

Hearts Content CD

Queen Anne’s Lace CD

Outposts on the Border of Longing (Roberta’s poetry chapbook from Finishing Line Press.)


We’ll send your prize promptly.


Two of the covers from “So Dear,” “Bie Mir Bist Du Schoen” and “Sincerely,” are currently airing twice a day on Women of Substance Radio’s hit show, “We’ve Got it Covered:  the 50s and 60s.”  On this great show, airing twice daily on the internet, you can hear all styles of woman fronted bands playing popular covers from past decades in their unique styles. Go to for the complete playlist and the “listen” button.  The show airs daily at noon and 8 pm ET through this Sunday, November 8. We hope you will give it a listen this week.


A couple of our songs will be featured on Acoustic Rainbow’s latest compilation that ships to thousands of folk, Americana, and acoustic radio shows world wide. Roberta’s “Backwards and Inside Out” from One Small Step was selected for the promo compilation as was “The Night John Hartford Opened for Us.” Maybe you’ll hear us on a radio show near you. Or one that you listen to far, far away.


Coffee Houses


We return to Leo Coffee House this weekend on November 8 for the 8:15 pm set.  There are two other great sets of music commencing at 7 pm, plus jamming from 5:30 on. Bring your guitar, banjo, uke, bass, mando and join in the opening circle.  Then stay around for an evening of tunes. You can check out what’s happening with the Queen City Balladeers at their site.  And it your join—for a very reasonable membership fee—all Leo nights are free. Plus, you get discounts on any other concerts they book for the year.  Check them out. 50 years plus and counting.


In December, we return to our favorite coffee establishment that also serves local beer and great wine, College Hill Coffee Company.  We’ll be singing a few holiday tunes and maybe even breaking out a few new tunes by then. Hope to see you from 7:30-9:30 pm on December 5.  CHCC is also a fabulous gift shop where you can find unique quality gifts for many folks on your list. Sit, sip, shop, chill, sing along.




We’ll continue our holiday cheer by playing three sets at Kentucky’s most beautiful gift shop, The Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea.  If you are passing through Kentucky on I-75 on December 12, we invite you to drop by to shop from 11-2 pm.  We will be your shopping music. Of course, you are always welcome to chime in on anything you know.


Thanks for all the support over these 25 years that passed so quickly!


Raise on!

And don’t ever defer those glorious dreams…


Roberta, Violet Rae and Vickie


Raison D’Etre


Summer Shows


Happy Summer, Raison Friends!


The Trio has a private gig scheduled for late July, so no big news for us. Except this is our 25th "birthday" month. In 1990, we finished up our several week stint on the Hoe Down Cruise for BB Riverboats and decided to take our front women trio to the Rose Family Reunion. There we sang some three-part harmony arrangements of the Forester Sisters, Karla Bonoff, Bruce Cockburn, a Roches' tune, and some Linda, Dolly and Emmy to begin our first year as the trio later named Raision D'Etre. We've been celebrating with some trivia questions and giveaways at our summer shows. So, we hope to see you at College Hill Coffee Company on August 8 for some more 25 Years, 25 Questions fun.  Win free merch(books, CDs, downloads) by answering a few questions about us.


3rd Friday Folk Concert in Somerset


Roberta will take her her solo set to Somerset on July 17 for the 3rd Friday Folk Concerts in the Carnegie Community Arts Center of Somerset, KY.  The concert starts at 7 pm with Maria McNeil. Roberta will follow with a set from her solo project, "One Small Step."  And Violet Rae has agreed to being her back-up singer and percussionist for the night. No, she didn't lose a bet. She's just being a good sister. Info for reserving your seat is in this flyer:



Berea's Festival of Learnshops


Roberta is happy to return to Berea on July 24 for two workshops on drumming for wellness. If you've always wanted to be part of a drum circle, this is your chance. Drums provided, no experience necessary.  Plus you get some take-home songs for using at a drum circle of your own.


Register for Empowerment Drumming at this link.


Happy Summer!

Raise on,

and don't defer those dreams of freedom.


In Like a Lioness with Arts Madness


While March is the month of basketball madness, it's also Women's History Month and the time for celebrating women in the arts as well as the arts in general. Check out a Womensway sponsored event at Falcon Theatre that runs for two more nights, March 7th & 8th, "The Breeze that Bends the Grass," a musical theatre piece with Krista Detor and Amanda Biggs. I went to see it last night.  The music and performances are quite moving. Get your tickets at Falcon Theatre's ticket link.


Macy's ArtsWave Sampler Weekend at Campbell County Public Library


ArtsWave has returned the Sampler Weekend to it's original format of one big art-packed weekend.  On March 7th and 8th, you can experience a little of the arts in your neighborhood, or you can map your way around the Greater Cincinnati Area to experience the many inviting art forms in our wider community, all free of charge. Roberta will lead a 45-minute demo recreational drum circle and discuss steps in the HealthRhythms protocol at the Campbell County Public Library in Newport.  Her session will begin at 12 noon in the library's community room. Drums provided, and no experience necessary. Come on down to pound out some stress. 


The library will also host Jim McBride at 11 am and Cincinnati's favorite singer songwriter, Tracy Walker and her band, at 1:15 pm.  It promises to be a groovin' kind of day in the 'Port.


SWAN Day at Women Writing for a Change


Womensway and Women Writing for a Change will co-host SWAN Day activities at the Women Writing's Plainfield Road location in Silverton on March 28 from 1-6 pm.

Women writers, musicians, artists, and comedians will share their works in performances and at their booths.  Troubadours of Divine Bliss and Raison D'Etre will each play a set. Roberta will have her new chapbook with her for anyone who wants to buy a copy or get their already purchased copy signed. A $15 donation is suggested for the afternoon of supporting women in the arts.


The Trio Returns!


As excited as Violet Rae and Roberta were to collaborate as a duo with Falcon Theatre for another fine Signature Series project, it sure will be good to harmonize in three parts again at the end of March.  Our SWAN Day set marks the return of our trio configuration for the first time this year.  We sure hope to see some familiar faces at our first performance together in 2015.  It's our 25th year together, so we hope to have an event to commemorate our Silver Anniversary this summer. Stay tuned.


Check out our calendar page for what's coming up this spring. You remember spring, right? The ground is green instead of white.


Raise on!

And don't defer those dreams that bend the grass.




What Did We Learn from the Shows This Year, Ladies?


I customarily review Raison D'Etre's year in a countdown of experiences, always trying to sort the really golden moments from some of the challenges of the year. However, at this point in the journey, I see that the challenges somehow make us more determined to create something meaningful in this life. So, I will not leave them out.  Our countdown for 2014 includes our top ten teachers.


Maybe it's a variation on "What did we learn on the show tonight, Craig?" without that very witty robot skeleton. Since it contains a Top Ten, I guess it also borrows from Mr. Letterman as well.  I'm going to miss both of those class acts.


10.  History homework builds repertoire and chops. 


Learning music for historic programs taught us to play some interesting pioneer tunes and some pretty sweet ragtime chord progressions this year. We were happy to collaborate with Falcon Theatre on "Beyond the Blue Mountains," a play about the Oregon Trail based on a poetry collection by  Centre College professor, Jane Wilson Joyce. For that show, we used many of the early 1800s tunes that we already know and added two new ones, "Bound for the Promised Land," and "Long, Long Ago." The show was again part of Campbell County Public Library's "Signature Series," and was a sellout.


We also learned some great 1900s tunes for Ohio Chautauqua's Journey Stories presentation about a local Titanic survivor. The Chautauqua cast set up their 500 person tent for a week's stay in July during New Richmond, Ohio's Bicentennial.  "Ragtime Cowboy Joe" was such fun that we have added it to our regular sets and had a blast adding it to our Golden Girls of the West shows at The Old West Festival.  Kazoos are involved.


9. Some pretty classy venues book historical/period programs for their seasons.


We've learned over the past two years that honing these various "historic/period" programs can result in some very interesting bookings for informed audiences. For example, we played a sold-out show at Fairfield Community Center's theatre entitled "Swing Canaries and Harmony Siblings" in March and booked an upcoming "Voices from the Past" concert with the Wayne County Historical Society in Wooster, Ohio. In the same series are Harpeth Rising, Lone Raven, a Chautauqua-like first person interpreter doing Teddy Roosevelt, and us performing "Songs from the Old and New West."  Plus, our latest CD, "So Dear,"(with some Old West, swing, and Oregon Trail songs included) got us three nominations for the Western Music Category at Academy of Western Artists.


8. Sometimes you have to just "go with it."


We've concluded that the weather is going to do whatever the weather is going to do. Over our 25 years of performing, we have only been absolutely drenched twice. Once was at the Morehead Folk Fest. We just got to our tent on Cave Run Lake when a giant storm threatened to lift the whole tent off its moorings.  The second time was at Wine Over Water this August, when a wall of water marched down the Ohio River headed right for our little tented area of the Purple People Bridge.  In Morehead, they canceled the event. This time, Brighton Center volunteers soldiered on, and so did we. A brief downpour appeared every set, but we made it.


7. When you need some help, ask for it. 


While we usually perform between 50-80 shows per year, in 2014 we had to learn the hard lesson that sometimes less is more. When Violet Rae found out that she must have major surgery to repair an aneurysm on her aorta, we took most of July and August off to accommodate her complicated surgery at the Cleveland Clinic.  It was almost the same procedure that heart transplant patients receive, complete with a by-pass machine. Ma Crow and the Lady Slippers stood in for us at College Hill Coffee Company(God bless them,) Arlene de Silva traveled to Berea to present Roberta's Health Rhythms drum sessions at the Learnshops,  Bev Bowers postponed our summer concert for Womensway, and Vickie and I did a duo set at Art Song.  Everyone was very supportive. So, again, we thank you all for your cards and calls and e-mails and love. Violet Rae was back with us(on a chair) by Wine Over Water at the end of August.


6. Martin backpacker guitars are audience magnets.


Backpack guitars are a great dialogue starter.  Since Violet's surgery, she has been using her backpack Martin for all gigs, mainly because it is so light, but also because of what her doc found on her follow-up visit to Cleveland in late October.  She has a hernia near the site of her surgery incision which will need to be repaired in early 2015.  It will require much less recovery time, but VRae wants to be sure not to make it worse.  In the meantime, she's enjoying lots of time fielding questions about that "weird instrument."


5. When it rains, it pours.


I am not still talking about Wine Over Water here, Although one of their volunteers took to calling the event "Water Over Wine" before the evening was over. For some reason, because we had so many challenges this year, we were even more determined to finish our 9th recording project, "So Dear," before the Old West Festival. 


The trio decided at the beginning of 2014--before we knew anything about Violet's impending surgery--that we would record a few of the historic tunes we'd learned for Soldier, Come Home and Beyond the Blue Mountains, our two successful collaborations with Falcon Theatre and the Campbell County Public Library.  Since these tunes spanned the 1830-1865 time period, we realized we could add them to our Old West Shows with some interesting back stories. They would comprise the "westward ho" core of our new recording.  In addition, I was writing quite a few songs that sounded period about our own experiences performing together over the past 25 years, so two of those songs would make it to the mix along with my song "Sure Thing" that we had been performing for two years, but had never recorded together.  Add to that two songs from our other period sets that had never been recorded like "Cattle Call" and "Sincerely," and we had a decent vintage set. I began laying down the basic tracks in April. Violet and Vickie came in to Group Effort Studios whenever they had a spare minute between May and July. Then Vickie finished her banjo tracks in August.  By the opening of the Old West Festival in September, we were hauling our new release in the big wooden box Bruce Ellis made for us.


4. Folk Flash Mobs are Good for the Soul.


Do yourself a favor this year.  If someone invites you to grab your guitar and head down to "mid-town" Black Mountain to sing "This Land is Your Land" with a bunch of folkies from the South East Region Folk Alliance, do it. Do it in honor of sing along geniuses like Pete Seeger and songwriters like Woody and possum-wielding instigators like Todd Hoke. There will be laughter, there will be unity, there will be love between my brothers and my sisters all over this land. But most of all, there will be biscuits.


3. Hang with some artists and artisans.


There's always something to learn from woodcarvers. At our recent holiday stint in Berea at Kentucky Artisan Center, I got to play the demonstrator's first handmade guitar.  Great action, beautiful wood. He was so impressed with VRae's backpacker that he decided he would make one himself.  And did you know that hedge ball trees make excellent bowls?  Plus, I had never even heard of snake wood.


And at Summerfair we once again played a set on the Vocal Arts Gazebo.  The rest of the time, we wandered about one of the most beautiful arts and crafts fairs in our area. What did we learn? "From my hands, it is sacred." Make some meaning in your lives, folks. Whether it's a poem, a pot, or a painting.


2. "Always stand by someone who is singing. You will be safe."


This advice came to us while we were performing for a memory care unit late this fall.  The advisor was singing along with us to most of the songs(the point of our presentation, really.) And in between songs, she offered this advice to anyone who would listen.  She also offered up a voluntary translation of "Bie Mir Bist Du Schoen" following that song: "to me, you are beautiful," she said to all present. "Now, you know."


1. "I Will Always Love You."  


Dolly wrote it for her pal, Porter. Whitney had a smash hit that causes people to wave their arms in the air when they hear it. We have been performing it since 1990. The song teaches us to not be shy about expressing our feelings of love and gratitude to you, dear reader, and to those who won't read this. Be sure to let your loved ones know how you feel because life is "just too short for some folks," to quote another great songwriter, Jesse Winchester.


Have  a wonderful 2015 filled with teachers--those experiences that shape the meaning in your life.


Roberta of the Raison


Raison D'Etre

Three Women Who Know Their Reason for Being










Deck the Halls! Light the Lights!


Another December rolls in, Raison friends!


We hope this busy month finds you close to the ones you love. We just have three shows this holiday season, and that's probably a good thing considering the projects all or some of us are involved in right now. Not to mention the many holiday gatherings, which I guess I just did.


Outposts on the Border of Longing Delayed


Roberta's first chapbook of poems from Finishing Line Press has not shipped due to some printer delays. So, if you pre-ordered the book and are wondering where it is, so is Roberta.  All kidding aside, the publisher tells us that it should be shipped before Christmas. And since Roberta has actually seen the galleys, that could very well happen. In the meantime, Womens Way of OH/KY  scheduled a salon at Women Writing for (a) Change to celebrate Outposts on the Border of Longing.  So, celebrate, we did. Many thanks to everyone who came. brought soup, snacks and wine for Roberta's first reading from her almost published book. The circle had an interesting discussion about the difference between songs and poems and the process of submitting one's work for publication.


If you pre-ordered the chapbook, and would like a free gift, Roberta will be glad to send a surprise your way. Just  e-mail  your mailing address to, and she will send you a thank you gift.


Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea


We are so happy to return to our favorite shopping destination on December 20 from 11 am-2 pm.  We will play three sets of music, including songs from our new CD, "So Dear"  and "Christmas Belles," for the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea.  The Artisan Center is packed with Kentucky-crafted items year-round, but they really pull out the stops for the holidays. If you are headed home on I-75 on December 20, be sure to stop by and say hello. We intend to shop on our breaks.


Christmas Eve at Horizon Community Church


For the third year, we will carol at Horizon Community Church for Christmas Eve.  Even though the church features wonderfully performed music in each of their Christmas Eve services, they want everyone who attends to enjoy traditional carols as they gather for each service and as they mingle afterwards in fellowship.  If you are looking for a warm, inviting service to attend for Christmas Eve--or anytime-- check out the schedule at Horizon Community Church.  


Singing Swinging New Year at Bethel Woods.


We'll be singing in the New Year a day early at Bethel Woods in Bethel, OH. At noon. Yes, the countdown will be at 12, all right.  But we will sing "Auld Lang Syne" at twelve NOON on December 30. So, if you frequent the Senior Center in Bethel, we look forward to wishing you a Happy 2015 in person. Fun starts at 11:30 am.


Twain by the Tale


Violet Rae and Roberta are busy practicing the pre-show and music cues for Falcon Theatre's and Campbell County Public Library's latest Signature Series collaboration, a review of Mark Twain's wit called Twain by the Tale.  The performance will take place January 16, 7 pm at the Newport Branch.  Tickets are free, but must be reserved at the CCPL site.  Get yours soon.  The last two collaborations have sold out.


If you can't make it out to any of these shows, you can always get one of our new CDs at CD Baby. Or keep up with what we're doing and thinking by "liking" our page on Facebook. There, you can talk back. We like that.


Happy holidays to you! Raise on!

And don't defer those December dreams…


Roberta, Violet Rae, and Vickie

The Women of Raison D'Etre



Attitude of Gratitude


Happy November, Raison Friends!


Time to be thankful for the end of political ads(for now) and make our various holiday plans for the rest of 2014.  And by holiday, I mean THANKSGIVING. Even though, the political ads were replaced with pre-Black Friday sales pitches and snowflake flecked reminders to shop for that other holiday which I will not mention at this point, anyway. In the meantime, this is the month for gratitude.


Grateful for the Balladeers


Raison D'Etre enjoyed an evening at the Queen City Balladeers on November 2 where the audience was invited to sing along with some excellent open mic performers. "Loch Lomond" was especially fun. The second set brought a delightful songwriter and string band ensemble called Ed Stapleton and Full Moon Ranch. They performed Ed Stapleton's lyrical tunes with back-up vocals, mandolin, bass, and guitar arrangements.  Wild Carrot's Spencer Funk provided the beautiful guitar arrangements. Then we took the stage to share some selections from our new CD, "So Dear." The Queen City Balladeers hold their weekly Leo Coffee House from September through May at Mt. Healthy United Methodist Church.  The "new" location--they've been there since last February--boasts a large fellowship hall, convenient parking and a lovely performance stage with lighting. Thanks to everyone who came out to see us.  If you'd like to check out the Leo between now and May, just go to the QCB site to see who's playing. The club tries to mix up the styles each week.


Grateful for Bookstores


We are so happy to have a great place like Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Crestview Hills in which to both celebrate the upcoming season and the release of our CD, "So Dear."  We will be playing two sets on November 16 in support of the latest recording.  Seasonal music alert:  Jo-Beth has requested that we do a few holiday tunes, so be ready for at least five or so sprinkled tastefully among the new songs and old favorites. Music starts at 2 pm.  We hope you'll drop by and check out the store.


Grateful for the Book and Womensway


Roberta's new chapbook will be published in November with a projected ship date of November 22.  Thanks to all who pre-ordered Outposts on the Border of Longing. If you'd like to have your copy signed and hear a short reading from the poems, Womensway of Ohio/KY is featuring Roberta at their December 6th salon, 7 pm. There will be some open mic readers and a few "read backs," which are always fun.  Come join Womensway for the gathering at Women Writing for (a) Change, December 6 from 6:30-8:30 pm.


Grateful for Falcon Theatre and Campbell County Public Library


Violet Rae and Roberta are providing the pre-show and music cues for Falcon Theatre's 3rd collaboration with Campbell County Library's Signature Series. On January 16, 2015 at 7 pm, the Signature Series will present a revue of Mark Twain's work entitled, "Twain By the Tale." We are rehearsing some songs from Mark Twain's era, especially a few tunes that were in a songbook the author frequently used in his parlor. The performance is free to the public, but reservations are required at the Campbell County Library site beginning November 11. The past three Falcon productions at the library have sold out, so get your tickets next week!


Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your friends and family.  Hope to see you at one of our upcoming dates.



Raise on!

And don't defer those thankful thoughts…


Roberta, Violet Rae, and Vickie






Golden Days of May


Slippin' away, what can I say?

Won't you stay inside me, month of May

and hold on to me, golden day,

slippin' away.--James Taylor



May is finally here with Derby Day and Mother's Day and Memorial Day.  All to remind us how fast time passes, and how much we value the "golden days."  We hope you are enjoying some golden days, Raison friends! We certainly have a few golden days coming up in the merry month of May that we'd like to share with you.


South East Region Folk Alliance Conference in Montreat, NC


We are excited to attend our 6th SERFA conference this year held at North Carolina's beautiful retreat center near Black Mountain, Montreat. Chico Schwall, folk singer extraordinaire, described Montreat as "having a folk music conference at Hogwarts."  With the magic of the mountains, unique stone architecture of Assembly Inn, and all that music, I have to agree. 


Raison D'Etre has an official showcase this year at 7 pm on Saturday, May 17. We would love to see any NC friends who could make it over the mountain from Marion or any of our SoLaTiDo buddies who are in the area.  Showcases are open to the public for $10 a night, or for a $25 weekend pass, you can check out all three nights of music. Just come on up to Assembly Inn's convocation center on Thursday, Friday or Saturday nights May 15-17 at 6:45 pm, and pay at the door. For details on the conference and registration fees, just go to  You will find a list of the official showcase performers and registration details, should you opt to attend. John McCutcheon will be our keynote speaker.


Of course, no SERFA would be complete without a full schedule of late night showcases. SERFA  runs eight showcase rooms a night from 10:40 pm to 2:00 am, The talent in those showcases is incredible!  Raison D'Etre will host our Old Kentucky Home Showcase on Friday night which always features good Kentucky-themed treats like Happy Balls Handmade Bourbon Balls from our friend, Ron Harris. 


Music Live@Lunch


When we get home from our Montreat adventures, we're pleased to return to Christ Cathedral's Live at Lunch Concert Series on May 20 from 12:10-12:50.  The start and stop times are odd because the cathedral chimes must ring on the hour. IF you are looking for a great way to spend your lunchtime, come on downtown to 4th street.  The church offers a delicious lunch for purchase, or you are welcome to bring your own.  Concerts are free. Check our their line-up for this year at this website. I'm sure they are planning a new schedule for next year even as I type.


Vocal Arts Gazebo


We'll end May on a high note as we return to Summerfair on Saturday, May 31 for another set of the Vocal Arts Gazebo.  Come check out this glorious art show at beautiful Coney Island Park.  Our set begins at 1:30 pm.


Facebook MIlestone


We were delighted to break 700 "likes" on Facebook this week.  If you like us and haven't yet "liked" our Facebook page, we'd really love your support. All you have to do is go to our Facebook page at this link and click on the "like" button.  Social media really helps us spread the word about events you might find interesting.  So thanks if you already like us, and please like us if you haven't.


New Recording Project


We've been in our favorite studio, Group Effort, recording what's going to become our ninth project. We're hoping for a fall release of some songs we've learned for historic programs , a few sister act and swing songs we haven't yet recorded, and of course a few Raison tunes.  We'll keep you updated.


Here are a few golden days coming up on our schedule. Don't let May slip away.


Click on this link for a detailed calendar.


Raise on,

and don't defer those dreams!


Roberta of the Raison

Raison D'Etre



April Showers Us with Good News



Happy Spring to you, Raison friends,


Wine, Women, Song, Film, Writing, Visual Art and Comedy


We had a pretty exciting end to March with a sold-out concert at Fairfield Community Arts Center's Wine, Women and Song and a wonderful Sunday afternoon celebrating SWAN Day with some fabulous women artists at Women Writing for (a) Change. So, if March came in like a lion, she went out roaring like a mama lion. In other words, like a boss with a strong voice who enjoys the company of her many talented pride. Thank you for helping us celebrate the accomplishments of women this month. And thanks to Fairfield Community Arts Center, Womensway of OH/KY and Women Writing for (a) Change for continuing to offer platforms for expression to all voices.


SERFA Showcase and Songwriting Honors


Raison D'Etre received some great news just last week.  First of all, we are happy to announce that we have an official showcase at this year's South East Region Folk Alliance(SERFA) Conference in Montreat, NC on May 17 at 7 pm.  We are pretty excited about this since other showcasers include the likes of Michael Johnathan, Tret Fure, Lauren Lapointe, and Jon Vezner with his newly formed trio, the Don Juans.  You can read the entire list of showcase artists at SERFA's website. The Officials are open to the public, so if you happen to be in the Asheville area in mid-May, come on up to Montreat's Assembly Inn Convocation Hall for the shows on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $10 for a one-night pass and $25 for the three-night extravaganza. Cash only on site. Folkies are the best company. Sing alongs guaranteed.  And the amount of talent you can hear at the late-night showcases is amazing!


Roberta just found out this week that her song, "Sure Thing" made it to the Finalist round of the Great American Song Contest. That list represents the top 100 songs entered out of some 1400 entries from all over the world.  While "Sure Thing" did not make it to the winners' circle, Roberta is really happy with her accomplishment and the judges' comments.  You can take a look at the Finalists and winners at the Great American Song Contest site.  They are gearing up for the next year's competition right now.


Coming up in April


We have the following shows coming up in April. Look forward to seeing you at one of them!



Saturday, April 12th, 2014


Macy's ArtsWave Sampler - 1 pm

Cold Spring KY US [map]


Saturday, April 26th, 2014


Soldier, Come Home - 7:00 pm

New Richmond OH [map]

RiverStage Theatre presents this reprise of Frank Wick's Civil War play written from family letters. Raison D'Etre provides preshow music.


Sunday, April 27th, 2014


Soldier, Come Home - 2:30 pm

New Richmond OH [map]

Matinee performance as part of New Richmond Bicentennial.


Raise on!

And don't defer those blossoming dreams…


Raison D'Etre


Wine, Women, Song and SWAN Day


So, in roared March like the proverbial lion.  Here's hoping that we'll smell the sweet breath of spring by the time that lamb saunters by. 


Wine, Women and Song

We've kept our March performance schedule light to rehearse for a special show at month's end when Fairfield Community Arts Center presents the final concert of their "Wine, Women and Song" series for this season, "Swing Canaries and Harmony Siblings."  We are so pleased to present the harmony tunes of the swing era along with some Western Swing and sister singing acts in a wonderful cabaret setting. Please join us for this fun event on March 28.  Songs start at 8 pm, but the wine part starts as early as 7 pm when the cash bar opens.


"Wine,Women and Song" provides intimate cabaret seating on stage and in the first several rows of their fabulous theatre for this series. Complimentary hors d'ouvres and a cash bar encourage a mingling nightclub atmosphere for these concerts which showcase renowned women artists. Our program will include the three-part harmonies of groups like the Andrews and McGuire Sisters alongside western swing from the Dinning Sisters and cowgirl tunes from groups like Girls of the Golden West. We'll sing some great standards from the big band era backed by our own folk trio accompaniment and share a few classic harmony tunes from our regular repertoire, including some Trio(Dolly, Emmylou and Linda) and even a few originals. We hope the atmosphere will invite you to kick back and enjoy a sing along kind of Friday night.


Good seats are still available at the $15 ticket price in rows A-H of the theatre. We would love to spend a Friday with you and your friends.  Just click here for tickets. See you March 28 at 8 pm for a little sentimental journey through some great songs and stories.


SWAN Day at Women Writing for a Change

Womensway of OH/KY is again collaborating with Women Writing for a Change to present a local SWAN Day event in Cincinnati. From 1-8 pm on March 30, the two women's organizations will celebrate women's music, poetry, film, comedy and visual art at the Plainfield Road location of WWfac.  Raison D'Etre will join Angela Minton and Ma Crow and the Lady Slippers to provide some original music for the day, For more information and a schedule of the events, check this website.



Spring is coming soon, right?  Until then…


Raise on!

And don't defer those tender, budding dreams!


They are always there under the snow, waiting to blossom.


Heartwarming Events and Sweetheart Deals


Hey, Raison Friends!


We hope you are staying warm during this extended winter cold snap. We've had quite a few heartwarming events to keep our spirits high and are now looking forward to a few Valentine's Day programs/


Heartwarming Events


We played to a sold out crowd on January 17 at Newport Public Library's Signature Series. Even with predicted snow, Falcon Theater's production of Beyond the Blue Mountains drew some 250 folks out to enjoy the reader's theater, meet the author and hear our 1850s preshow and live sound track. We so enjoy working with Falcon Theater and Campbell County Library on these wonderful historical and literary productions.


On January 24 we returned to College Hill Coffee Company for two sets of music of our own vintage.  It was so great to see supportive old friends as well as brand new ones who stayed for the whole evening enjoying the music, coffee, food and ambience on a cold winter's night. 


Also present was our dear friend, Angie Gillespie, who is competing for this year's DotheJingle Safe Auto contest.  This is a national jingle contest with a $5000 prize and the chance to be the new commercial for Safe Auto.  Angie and her team of good friends have kept her in or near first place for most of January.  You can help a northern Kentucky gal achieve her dream of working full time in the voice over business by voting for her (often) at  Her jingle is good, and we love her! The contest runs until February 28. Go, Angie!


We also played a set at Leo Coffee House on Sunday January 26.  It was awards night all over the country it seemed as the Grammys were on TV and many of Cincinnati's music lovers were attending the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards.  In spite of the the glamour and glitz choices available on that icy night, a hearty crowd showed up at Leo to support the three sets there.  We enjoyed the guitar stylings of a seasoned luthier and the song writing skills of Drew Davis, a young woman touring the country with her mom and suitcase filled with songs.


Sweetheart Deals


Valentine's Day is coming up, so what can you give your sweetie that says, "I Will Always Love You?"  How about a little "Hearts Content" or a Raison D'Etre show?

Our heart-themed recording, "Hearts Content" makes a wonderful addition to any Valentine's greeting you might have for your sweetheart, mom, dad, aunt, uncle, sister, brother, or really good friend.  The cover is a hand-drawn design from artist Freddie Thoman, and the songs are all heart or love-themed. You can tell your sweetie that you are "In the Mood," and that "I Will Always Love You" while you assure them of your steadfast love with "I've Got the Heart." Invoke those little candy hearts with songs like "Be True," while you contemplate your destiny with "Hearts Content."  You get the idea. It's a concept album about things we love. Get yours here.


Or, if you'd rather take your sweetie out for some food, wine or music, we have two shows on the horizon that can warm the heart. Reservations for the Mason's Valentine Dinner/Show on February 8 are $12.50 each and due on February 4.  For your money you get a great dinner and an hour Valentine's set from Raison D'Etre.  Call in your reservations to Phil Brown at (513) 868-2338 or e-mail Bud Haacke at


Let me know that you made reservations for this show(called Phil or e-mailed Bud,) and I will give you a free copy of "Hearts Content" at the show. Just  answer this e-mail with "See you on February 8," and I will pack up a free CD just for you. Hope to see you then!


And if you'd like to toss a couple of tickets to an upcoming show in your Valentine card, we are playing for a wonderful music series at Fairfield Community Arts Center called "Wine, Women and Song" on March 28.  You can buy tickets now as a Valentine's surprise and then take your sweetie to our "Swing Canaries and Harmony Sisters" show on March 28.  Beautiful theater, cabaret seating.


Buy tickets here!


Raise on, dear friends!

And don't defer those sweetheart dreams…(or deals.)



We'll Take a Cup of Kindness. And, thanks!


Dear Raison Friends,


As 2013 draws to a close, we hope that you are getting ready to celebrate the New Year with your nearest and dearest. As usual--for the past five years--we are playing a party for a great bunch of revelers at Bayley Place. Their countdown to 2014 begins at 2:50 pm.


So, for our last newsletter to you for 2013, we'd like to wish you a bountiful and blessed 2014. And thank you for all the great memories you've helped us make over the past year. Here's a Raison D'Etre memory countdown to the New Year…


10.  Thanks so much, Coffeyville, for welcoming three cowgirls from back east into your fold for a week back in January. "Home on the Range" just sounds better in Kansas.


9. Thanks so much, Campbell County Public Library, for developing the wonderful Signature Series that explores history, music, drama, and great books.  We were so honored to be part of your season in collaboration with Falcon Theatre for the area premier of "Soldier, Come Home" on January 25, 2013.


8. Our thanks to the Kentucky Arts Council for pioneering a concert series at UK Healthcare in Lexington.  You continue to serve the arts and all the people of Kentucky in the most supportive and imaginative ways possible.


7.  Thanks to Womensway and Women Writing for (a) Change for continuing your avid support of women in the arts.  We are so grateful to have been included in many of your collaborations like SWAN Day and the Summer Music Series.


6.  Thanks to Kelly Thomas for having such an inclusive sense of community. She pulled off a three-day benefit in three Greater Cincinnati music hotspots. "One More Girl on a Stage" came back in 2013 with a roar.


5. Thanks to great venues like the Old West Festival and Battery Hooper Days for including period music in your festivities.  We love doing our cowgirl and Civil War sets for folks who love history and dressing up!


5. Thanks to South East Region Folk Alliance, Betty, Kim and Christine for giving us such an awesome conference of colleagues and friends. Without you, we wouldn't have met great people like Lauren LaPointe, Todd and Meg Hoke, Jefferson Ross, Denise Williams, Miss Brown to You, The Skirt Lifters, Mr. and Mrs. Bobby and so many others who continue to enrich our lives with their kindness and endless talent.


4. And speaking of talent, thanks to the one-woman blues sensation, EG Kight, for asking us to sing back-up on a few of her songs this summer. You never need back-up, EG, but we're glad you are so generous with your "spotlight."


3. We are very thankful for great venues like Carnegie Center for Performing and Visual Arts and Fairfield Community Arts Center for including our speciality shows in their seasons.  In October we performed "Swing Canaries, Harmony Sisters and Folk Divas" as part of Carnegie's "In Concert" series.  And coming up in March, we're doing "Swing Canaries and Harmony Sisters" for Fairfield's "Wine, Women and Song." Tickets available here.


2.  Thanks to great local venues like College Hill Coffee Company, Leo Coffee House, Miami Downtown Hamilton and Music Cafe for giving acoustic acts a musical home.  Thanks to Christ Cathedral and Horizon Community Church for your devotion to music for the community. Thanks to Plain Folk Cafe for creating a venue that musicians, music lovers, and families can enjoy.


1. And most of all, thanks to every single one of you who bought a CD or download, signed up for our e-mails, liked our fb page, or just stopped to give us a little encouragement. We will always love you.  Happy New Year!


Jumping into July Celebrations



The fireworks are over for now, but there's still plenty of summer fun sizzling on the horizon for all of us.  The women of Raison D'Etre are looking forward to some anniversaries, concerts, and community music-making during July.  We are also happy to announce our October performance at a great local arts venue.




The Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea is celebrating it's 10th Anniversary this year with several special events taking place during July. Raison D'Etre is proud to be part of the opening night reception for this happy anniversary on July 18 from 4:30-6:30 pm at the Artisan Center.  We will play a short set of music for the arriving artists and guests beginning at 4:30 pm.  Then, there will be a program recognizing the achievements of the Center over the past ten years followed by more music from this folk trio until 6:30 pm.  We are so grateful for the staff at the Center for introducing Kentucky's artisans and musicians to the traveling public. Our music is better known around the region and the country because of this beautiful, engaging stop along the I-75 corridor.  Thank you!  And Happy Anniversary!


July is also the "birth month" of our trio as we began our musical life together aboard a river party barge called the Kontiki in the summer of 1990 as front women for a country rock band, entitled for the gig, Runaway Stage. Of course, our bass player and resident wit, Dan'l Wilson, soon changed the name of the boat to the Cowtipi to suit our "Hoedown Cruise" adventures. After the second summer on the barge, Violet, Vickie and I decided maybe we would go to WGUC's recording studio and lay down a few of our three-part harmony tracks together, with just our guitars and keyboard. We took our resulting demo tape to a folk radio program at Morehead State University where our friend and host, Steve Young, introduced us to his listeners with our brand new name, "Raison D'Etre"-- thought up in the car on the way to the show.  We explained to Steve during our interview  that music is a good reason for our being. Of course, Steve is his own resident wit, so he promptly began calling us "The Dead Raisons." So, those of you who think you might butcher the pronunciation of our trio's name, please know that it has already been topped by Steve's intentional efforts.


I just dug the 1991 master tape out of my desk drawer. Of the ten songs on the cassette tape--yes, we go back that far--we still do two of the tracks, "Some of Shelly's Blues" and "Singing the Blues," while only two of the tracks were originals by Roberta.  The rest are covers by harmony groups like the Roches, the Whites, The Coyote Sisters, and Trio, our beloved Dolly, Emmylou and Linda. We haven't reached a milestone this year since we are just now at 23 years together, but we missed commenting on 20 years, probably out of denial and being in the middle of two projects when that anniversary passed us by. So, Happy 23rd to us--just in case we let 25 go by without noticing.


Concerts, concerts, concerts...


While most of our concert series performances take place during August this year, we are happy to return to the stage of The Music Cafe in Hamilton, OH on July 23rd to try out some newer tunes on the great audience there. We'll be one of many acts that night, so we'll be happy to do our 25 minute set at 8 pm.


In August, we share the stage at Women Writing for a Change with blues sensation, EG Kight who will also welcome Emily Ash as her special guest. That concert is August 4th with sliding scale admission. Anyone who wants to experience a great night of music with a great group of people will not be turned away. August 11 takes us back up to Lakeside the Chautauqua on Lake Erie for a Family Night in the Park Concert.  On August 17, we'll reprise our Civil War set at Battery Hooper Days. Then on August 23rd, we'll be back at our favorite coffee establishment, College Hill Coffee Company for two sets. We'll conclude our summer concert season on August 30th at Kenton County Library's Final Friday Concert Series.


Festival of Learnshops at Berea


Roberta is returning to Berea's Festival of Learnshops with two drumming learnshops on July 26.  One session from 9:30am-12:30 pm is called Recreational Drumming for Wellness and will involve the participants in a drum circle and a discussion about benefits for their communities.  No experience necessary. Drums provided.  Then in the afternoon from 2-5 pm, Roberta will facilitate a drum circle for educators along with discussing applications for schools.  


Our Big Announcement


We are so pleased to be scheduled as part of Carnegie In Concert this fall on October 3rd. Tickets were available to subscribers only in early June, but now they are available for single event purchase as well.  Our concert is entitled "Swing Canaries, Harmony Sisters, and Folk Divas" and will feature some of the best songs and stories from our specialty shows as well as selected folky originals. We would sure love to see you at this special concert in a gorgeous performing arts center right in Covington. KY.



Raise on,

and don't defer those summer dreams!









A Grand and Challenging Year So Far



June, already?  This year has been speeding by for the women of Raison D'Etre. With a well-deserved two weeks off, we finally have a little time to work on some new songs and reflect on this grand, yet challenging year so far. 


So, what was grand? In January, we premiered our pre-show music for Falcon Theatre's production of "Soldier, Come Home," a readers' theater play based on Civil War letters between playwright Frank W. Wicks' great grandparents. The Newport branch of Campbell County Library was sold out for the production which we also reprised for New Richmond Historical Society in April. Right after the Civil War play, we packed up our cowgirl gear and headed for Coffeyville, KS to perform our Golden Girls of the West show 17 times in one week. We played several new(to us) venues including Miami Downtown Hamilton's Concert Series, Harriet Beecher Stowe House and Music Live at Lunch at Christ Cathedral. Plus, we returned to some favorite places like Plain Folk Cafe, Women Writing for a Change, College Hill Coffee Company, the Art Museum and Summerfair. And it was our pleasure to learn a set called "Folk Divas of the 1960s" for Leo Coffee House and Queen City Balladeers' 50th Anniversary. In May, Violet and Roberta represented us at South East Region Folk Alliance(SERFA) in Montreat, NC by hosting a showcase room and showcasing in the wonderful Hillbilly Haiku Showcase Room. Roberta also presented a workshop on playing music for the senior population.


While we were in Kansas, Roberta and Violet's mom, Louise, went into the hospital for an irregular heartbeat.  And this is where the "challenging" part comes in. Louise stayed in the hospital for over two months, including rehab. When she was released from the hospital, her home care team required 24-hour care. So much of January-March remains a blur for us as we needed to balance any scheduled performances with being sure that someone was with Louise. She's doing better now, getting out of the house for the Appalachian Festival on Mother's Day and attending the last Shakespeare production for this season--in wheelchair and with O2--but it's hard to keep a good gal down.  Thanks to everyone for your continued concern and support.


We hope your year contains some grand moments to balance out the challenges. Here at this half way mark in 2013, we are so grateful for your continued interest in three women who live to sing together. Come see us at one of these upcoming events.  We love talking to friends.


Raise on!

And don't defer your grand dreams.


Roberta, Violet Rae, and Vickie


Hope to see you this summer.  Check our calendar page for updates on where and when.




New Year, New Website, New Horizons


2012 has been an interesting year for Raison D'Etre already.  Usually, January is our month to sort, sift, file and set new goals.  While we did make a stab at that during the first few weeks of January, we were almost too busy with new experiences to think about where we want the trio to head in the next year.


New Gigs

On January 4, we played our very first 70th Anniversary party for Ossie and Connie Bromberg. They requested that we feature songs from the 1940s, so we did our Swing Canaries program for them and about 100 of their friends and family at Seasons Retirement. We were excited to be part of such a wonderful achievement in human relationships.  Here's wishing the Brombergs many more.


Then Tina Stoeberl asked us to step in for a Saturday at College Hill Coffee Company. Since we'd already agreed on our 2012 schedule at our favorite coffee establishment, we were honored that she thought of us to fill a scheduling gap.  It turned out be one of the best nights we've ever had there.  Hope to see you next time, April 13.


Next, Roberta appeared solo with poet, Pauletta Hansel, for An Evening of Word and Song at Kentucky Haus. Roberta presented some of the poems she's written in Pauletta's Practice of Poetry sessions at Grailville while Pauletta read from her new book, The Lives We Live in Houses.  Roberta also added a few songs to the mix.


New Website

After many years comfortably cruising on HostBaby's Wizard templates, Roberta decided to take the SiteBuilder upgrade for Raison D'Etre's website.  You can now see the difference at


The new site makes placing of widgets and video much easier than the Wizard.  So, you should be able to find most things you need on the homepage, with the option to dig deep for more information by clicking through. Let us know what you think.


New Horizons


We have lots of exciting projects coming  up in February. Please check our calendar page for specifics:


But here's a brief listing:


•Hearts Content Valentine Concert February 4 at Kentucky Haus--1-3 pm

•HealthRhythms Empowerment Drum Circle forming at Partners in Prime, West Chester--February 9 at 12:30 pm.(Roberta)

•HealthRhythms Empowerment Drum Circle February 11--1:30, Fairfield Community Arts Center, Macy's ArtsWave Sampler(Roberta)

*Newport Business Association's Annual Awards Meeting--February 29, 6-9 pm


Besides gigs, we'd like to mention that Roberta is serving on the committee to bring Carrie Newcomer to Grailville on May 20.  Registration for the workshop, dinner and concert are now live at Grailville's site…and the workshop is filling up fast.

Go to:


It promises to be an amazing day of music, food and exploration.


Looking Ahead


We just got our third run of Swing Canaries in, so we're excited about having those on hand again whenever we perform our specialty shows.  They should be available at CDBaby again within the next week.


In March, we'll be at Kentucky Crafted: the Market on one of the trade days(March 1) as well as on one of the public days, March 4.  Hope to see you there.


And in the "way ahead" department, we've just been booked for an October date at a brand new venue in Ohio called Plain Folk Cafe.  Check them out because they are opening in May with an almost full calendar for the year.  A beautiful renovation of an old school!


Can't wait!


And remember that Raison D'Etre CDs make great Valentine's gifts.


We will always love you(and Dolly.)


Raise on, and don't defer your dreams.


Roberta, Violet Rae and Vickie



Here's a review of last year according to the Flip camera:



Wander Over Yonder





The women of the folk trio, Raison D'Etre(Violet Rae Webster, Vickie Riffe Ellis and Roberta Schultz)have never backed down from a challenge, period. Especially period music challenges. When Historic Washington, KY wanted frontier carolers, they learned holiday tunes from pre-1820. When the Cincinnati Museum Center wanted Shaker music, Civil War songs, and WWII swing tunes, they researched, arranged, and found the costumes. So when the founder of the Old West Festival wondered if they just might be able to do an hour of Old West songs, Roberta Schultz, singer, guitar player, and one of the songwriters for the trio began researching:


"In one of the first articles that I read on the popular music of the late 1800s, I was surprised that the author declared this period a dead zone in music.  Lots of minstrel shows were being performed all over the East and the South. And many of these shows had newly composed songs like "Lubly Fan" which later became "Buffalo Gals" and "Wait for the Wagon" which came from a musical in the 1850s. Cowboys took these songs with them when they rode the trails of the West, along with many tunes from the Civil War and old ballads that funneled through the folk process to become cowboy songs.  I didn't see a 'dead zone.' Instead, I saw a rich period in American music that paved the way for singer songwriters, Tin Pan Alley, and Broadway musicals."


Schultz's research resulted in yet another full hour of period music that Raison D'Etre performs at the Old West Festival and for libraries as Golden Girls of the West.:


"We've always enjoyed having fun with our album titles.  When we recorded a sound track for a community theatre production of 'Dearly Departed,' we couldn't resist putting our baby pictures on the cover and calling the collection of Baptist hymns 'Broadman Babies' to hearken back to the show tune 'Broadway Babies' and our early church-going roots. When we did a collection of classic Christmas carols, we called it 'Christmas Belles' and asked our friend Freddie Thoman to sketch a cover of three belles in hoop shirts that were also a string of bells.  Much to our delight and surprise, the sequel to the play 'Dearly Departed'  was also named 'Christmas Belles'--a coincidence that only encouraged the tongue-in-cheek naming tradition. So, when we learned an entire set of Old West tunes, I remembered the sister act, Girls of the Golden West, who recorded cowgirl songs during the 1940s.  It didn't take long to think of the transposition for that title.  'Golden Girls of the West' was born."


While performing the Old West tunes during the 2008 inaugural season of the Old West Festival near Williamsburg, OH, the trio found that the set was often too sad for their liking. Said Schultz, "Cowboys had a pretty hard scrabble existence, so many of the songs were about homesickness, lost loves, and death. We were wondering what we could do to the set to lift our spirits without compromising its authenticity.  So, we did what we always do to add some sass to a folk music set.

We added a few songs from the swing era that were about  the Old West. Cole Porter's classic, 'Don't Fence Me In" causes lots of sing alongs, plus we can really bemoan our cowgirl plight with the cheeky 'Buttons and Bows.'  Add Dale Evans'  wonderfully upbeat 'Happy Trails' to the end of any set, and you have the recipe for a good time."


"Golden Girls of the West" loped their way into the studio this spring to begin recording this classic set of cowgirl tunes.  The result is an honest, respectful rendering of 11 Old West songs anchored by the lighthearted trio of  "Hollywood cowgirl songs," as Schultz likes to call them. One Schultz original entitled "The Papers" also found its way on to the recording since it is a family story about Henry Price, a young Blackfoot who traveled with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show to the Ohio Valley in the late 1800s. He was Violet Webster's and Roberta Schultz's great grandfather:


"My Grandma, Babe, always told me the story of how her daddy ended up in Portsmouth, OH as an indentured servant.  It was an important legacy to her, and since it's part of our Old West history in this area, I thought it deserved a place on the album."


"Golden Girls of the West," Raison D'Etre's 8th recording on their own label, Detremental Records, is slated for release at this year's Old West Festival, September 10.


"You can walk right up to us at the Festival gate at noon, or catch us on the Chisholm Trail Stage at 4:00 pm and on the Dodge House Stage at 5:00 pm. We'll be selling our new CDs out of the handmade wooden box Vickie's husband, Bruce Ellis, crafted for us.  While CDs aren't period-looking, the box sure is," says Schultz.


The Old West Festival runs consecutive weekends from September 10-October 9. Check out the schedule of gunfights, derring-do, horse shows, medicine shows, saloon antics, and music at  


You can  also order "Golden Girls of the West" at CDBaby:




Happy Trails!


Down By the Riverside, Up on Lake Erie, and Somewhere Over the Ohio




Greetings from your favorite folk harmony trio,



Cool Spots Outdoors


We sure hope you've found your cool spot in this long, hot summer. We've sure managed to stumble into a few fabulous places. Acoustic Thursday on Fountain Square was a hot time(musically speaking) with songstress Pru Hunt delivering some of her fine tunes and Anderson Senior Center stopping by on their annual downtown excursion. Nothing like a couple of buses pulling up behind your stage to make you feel the love. And our two concerts at Tower Park with the Jump 'n' Jive Show Band were swinging at Ft. Thomas' beautiful new amphitheater. It was great to see friends from the Historical Society and to meet Ken Luther from WMKV who played a few tracks from our Swing Canaries CD on his show.


Cool Indoor Fun


Working with Dan Murphy of Group Effort Sound Studios is always cool, but we've been having extra fun this summer as we are working on our cowgirl set for an upcoming release.  Coincidentally, we ended up performing that set for the Kenton County Library's main branch programming at Baker-Hunt Art Center in Covington between our July recording sessions. Nineteenth Century tunes just resonate with the beautiful Scudder House concert parlour. Thanks to Gary Pilkington for adding to our cowgirl kind of summer.


Side Trips by Roberta


Roberta took her drums and her songwriting chops to Berea's first ever Festival of Learnshops in July to present a songwriting workshop and a HealthRhythms Empowerment Drum Circle for the festival goers.  Berea was happy with the first time response to their extended week of learning in the arts and crafts. Participants could experience stained glass making, mushroom growing, medicine pouch making, writing, songwriting, dancing, cooking, jewelry make and take, recreational drumming, rubber stamp get the idea. They will do it again next summer, so stay tuned for the adventure of creating your own art, craft, and food.


Since Roberta is also a Kentucky Arts Council Teaching Artist in Music, she attended a really interesting conference in Murfreesboro, TN called "Create 2011" where she could brush up on teaching songwriting, pick up some drumming skills, dance with the double dream hands guy, and even learn how to make some computer assisted paintings.  Rooming with visual artist, Pat Ritter, was a great time, too.  On their free evening, these two Kentucky Teaching Artists managed to take in the Chet Atkins Tribute Concert over in Franklin featuring Tommy Emmanuel. And there was lots of dancing with Teaching Artists from all over the U.S. at the Monday night party.


Coming Up: Songs by and Over Water


After all this heat, we are ready to get pickin' on the Lickin', go with the flow, and just maybe get our feet wet.  Upcoming concerts will take us to the Licking River Music Festival in Morningview, KY, Family Night in the Park at Lakeside, OH on Lake Erie,  somewhere above the Ohio River at Wine Over Water in Newport, KY. And Roberta will take a side trip to Women Writing for (a) Change for some drums and healing.  We hope to see you at one of these great events.  Stay cool as you Raise On!  And don't defer those sizzling dreams.


For details on any of our shows, check this link:



And the Livin'is Easy!




Happy Summer!


Even though we've been feeling the heat for some time, it's official now.  Time for some outdoor concerts and some comfy shows indoors, too. Your favorite three-part harmony trio has been hard at work on a few new projects that we hope you will enjoy.


Jumpin' and Jivin'


Last fall we recorded a vintage baseball tune with a wonderful Cincinnati-based big band called the Jump 'n' Jive Show Band. The resulting tune, "I Want to Go to a Ballgame" will be featured in an upcoming documentary about women groundskeepers in Major League Baseball.  Jump 'n' Jive was formed a few years ago by trumpeter, Jerry Beck to give back to the community through their performances. As the nonprofit, The Cincinnati Music Foundation, the band books gigs throughout the year staffed completely by volunteer professional musicians who donate their time(rehearsal and performance.)  Proceeds from their public performances go to buy instruments for kids who can't afford them. You can listen to the band and see what they are all about at their website:


After we recorded the swing version of that baseball tune, Jerry thought it might be fun for Raison D'Etre to perform it at a few of Jump 'n' Jive's gigs this summer. So, we're doing that, plus maybe a couple of other swing tunes.  Our debut to their roster of singers will be on June 30th in our very own Tower Park, Ft. Thomas. Hope to see you there.


Don't Fence Me In


While many of you are familiar with our Swing Canaries personas, you may not realize that we become cowgirls every fall for the Old West Festival in Dodge City, Kansas/Ohio.  Because people kept asking us why we don't have some cowgirl tunes recorded, we are in the studio this summer, aimin' to please.  Our Old West set plus some Hollywood cowgirl tunes will be on CD and available for download by the fall.  And if you can't wait until the fall to see us in Old West duds, we are doing a cowgirl concert at the Scudder House(Baker-Hunt) for the main branch of the Kenton County Library on July 23. 


On the Square


And what would summer in the city be without some lunchtime music on Fountain Square?  We are happy to be part of Acoustic Thursday's line-up on July 7th which also includes the dulcet tones of songwriter, Pru Hunt.


Festival of Learnshops


Roberta is excited to be a part of Berea, KY's first Festival of Learnshops, a week-long festival of arts, crafts, and sustainable living workshops in the "capitol" of Kentucky's arts and crafts region. She is offering a free HealthRhythms drum circle and a songwriting workshop. Check out the extensive schedule of interesting and fun events for a great getaway.




 Check our calendar page for specifics about each concert.


Raise on,

And don't defer those midsummer night dreams!




June is Bustin' Out!





Sitting on the back porch a few evenings ago, Gary and I saw a couple of June bugs.  I haven't seen their like for many years, so it was certainly comforting to see a couple of old friends thriving and buzzing around a string of lights.


We hope you are thriving and buzzing with near-summer energy as June busts out and May slips away.  Raison D'Etre had an interesting May schedule including the Governor's Derby Day Celebration in downtown Frankfort, a return to Gratz Park for Lexington's MayFest and a showcase at Johnstown's historic Opera House for the New Lyceum Circuit.  I headed for the mountains of North Carolina for SERFA's 4th Annual Conference from May 19-22, and then we scheduled more studio time with the fabulous Dan Murphy for our upcoming cowgirl recording. Oh, yes, and we managed to squeeze in a rehearsal or two with the Jump n Jive Show Band, as we are planning to sing with them at a couple of summer shows(June 30 & July 28 in Tower Park, Fort Thomas.) 


As June gets ready to bust out in earnest, we'd just like to remind you of a few shows we have coming up...


We'll be singing at our favorite coffee establishment, College Hill Coffee Company from 7:30-9:30 pm  on June 4th, performing on the Vocal Arts Gazebo at Summerfair at 2:30 pm, June 5th, making our debut at Trillium Art Fair at 2:30 on June 12, and doing a two-set concert at Newport's wonderful Kentucky Haus Artisan Center from 12-2 pm on June 18. Hope to see you this summer.



Raise on, June bugs,

And don't defer those buzzin' dreams.


Roberta of the Raison


From Opera House to Opry



While April held its share of record rain, swelling the Ohio over its banks and cancelling several big events in our area, the Jeep rolled on to Richwood, Pemberville and Wapakoneta. Our first stop was April 1 at Richwood Flea Market's Woodsongs Coffee House stage where we shared the stage with an awesome gospel bluegrass group called Revival Ridge.  Bev and Sue brought their grand daughter, Casey, out to hear us.  And Gary Schultz even made it out on a Friday.


The next day took us to northern Ohio's beautiful Pemberville Opera House where we played for the "Live in the House Concert Series."  Director, Carol Bailey, told us  upon our arrival that there were performance traditions required of all acts appearing at this historic venue.  First of all, we had to sign the program.  Then, sometime before the end of the evening, we needed to find a spot on the green room wall to sign our names.  Violet found us a doozy of a spot way up high, so we were balancing on a chair to get our names on the wall next to some signatures that date back to the 1800s.





Near month's end, we journeyed up I-75 again to Wapakoneta to appear in the stage of the Appalachian Opry.  This folk, country, and bluegrass variety show is the brainchild of Vernon McIntyre of Appalachian Grass fame.  He and his wife, Kitty have purchased an old school building just outside of Wapakoneta on route 33 where they hold concerts in the school auditorium, serve up really good sandwiches in the school's old kitchen, and base their Famous Oldtime Music Company music store and business.  Everyone was super nice including the other guest musicians who jammed with us in the green room on an impromptu version of "Bie Mir Bist Du Schoen." and "Sweet Violets."  We had a certified big time.


Roberta continued her HealthRHYTHMS drumming in April, including a large drum circle at the Kentucky Association of Gerontology led by founder of HealthRHYTHMS, Dr. Barry Bittman and sessions at Owen Co. Senior Center, Active Day of Ohio, and Colonial Gardens. She's scheduled to present HealthRHYTHMS at the first ever Berea Festival of Learnshops in July.


Now here we are in May looking forward to the many flowers the showers are supposed to bring.  If you can't catch up to us at one of our live shows in Kentucky or North Carolina, then maybe you can "tune in" on your computer to Women of Substance Radio this month when we are featured on "Music with a Conscience," Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 3-7 pm ET.


Hope to see you when we are on the road!



May 7 we're at the Governor's Downtown Derby Celebration and May 8, we're at Lexington's MayFest in Gratz Park.


Raise on, and don't defer those dreams!


You Must Believe in Spring



"So in a world of snow

Of things that come and go

Where what you think you know

You can't be certain of

You must believe in spring and love."


              --Bergman, Bergman, Lemay and Legrand


While we celebrated the long overdue arrival of Spring on the Equinox, surprising late snows and colder temperatures have managed to stick around in our neck of the woods. Here's hoping that you are enjoying more than a few budding signs that Spring is really here.


March Highlights


Raison D'Etre traveled to Louisville for the nation's number one (voted by the readers of American Style) arts and crafts show, Kentucky Crafted:  the Market. We briefly saw our friends, Peggie and Bev of Kentucky Haus Artisan Center who were there to do some serious shopping for their shop's inventory. Then we settled in at the Kentucky Arts Council's booth to perform a few songs from our recordings which were also available for buyers.




On the actual first day of Spring, Roberta was pleased to be part of Grailville's Third Sunday Poetry Series in Loveland, OH.  Roberta joined Bet Stewart, Mary Kroner, and Bucky Ignatius on a panel discussion entitled "Music and Words: Poetry from a Songwriter's Perspective" followed by a brief songwriting workshop led by Roberta. 

Nothing reminds us of Spring's return like a visit to the beautiful Grailville grounds with the sounds of spring peepers and new songs filling the air.


March 26 marked the fourth weekend of ArtsWave in the Greater Cincinnati area. Roberta was pleased to present HealthRHYTHMS drumming at Evendale Cultural Arts Center where she also heard her good friend and storyteller, Omope Carter Daboiku share her own take on "The Three Little Pigs."  After packing up the drums, with a generous assist from Omope, Roberta joined Violet Rae and Vickie at Women Writing for (a) Change for SWAN Day, a celebration of women in the arts. Raison D'Etre took part in a songwriters' circle with Tracy Walker where each woman presented her own songs while receiving instrumental support from the other women in the circle. We really enjoyed Tracy's skillful djembe accompaniment to "This Kind of Rain," while we added percussive touches to her groove on "Stay."  Women Writing for (a) Change co-produced their SWAN Day event with Womensway of OH/KY.  Highlights of the day included a welcoming speech by poet Mary Pierce Brosmer, founder of the organization, exhibits and talks by visual artists who use writing in their art and process, a screening of the Sarah NIght film, "Hot Flash" about the Uppity Blues Women(a Womensway production,) and a final powerful "read-around" about the day's events. 



Our April travels take us to a new Woodsongs Coffeehouse at the Richwood Flea Market, to the Pemberville Opera House concert series, ""Live in the House," and finally to Wapakoneta's answer to Hee-Haw, Midwestern Hayride and the Opry, "Appalachian Opry" at Famous Old Time Music's performance hall.


Raise on, and don't defer those springtime dreams.



St. Pat, Songwriters, and Drums



February was a busy month for Raison D'Etre.  We partnered with Footlighters to produce a concert in their beautiful Stained Glass Theatre space--on the set of Blithe Spirit, no less.  Then we had a lovely hour concert as part of Cincinnati Art Museum's "All We Need is Love" brunch, art, music event the following day. We took a breather the following week for Violet Rae to attend a tourism conference in Detroit, but fired up the Jeep for an exciting ArtsWave performance at UC Clermont's Krueger Auditorium.  Finally, we rounded out our February dates with a visit to our favorite coffee shop, College Hill Coffee Company for two sets.


March promises interesting and varied experiences for the trio and for Roberta.  On St. Patrick's Day, March 17, Raison D'Etre will play a set at Kentucky Crafted:  the Market at 2 pm for the trade audience only.  Kentucky Crafted takes place at the Louisville Exposition Center and consistently rates in the top ten of fairs and festivals chosen by AmericanStyle Magazine. We'll be performing in the Kentucky Arts Council's Blue Moon Stage Booth in support of our recordings.  If you have a shop and want to stock up on Kentucky-made products, Crafted is the place to be stock up on March 17-18.  On March 19-20, the show opens to the general public.


And speaking of St. Pat, Women of Substance Radio is running a special Celtic program in his honor on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays in March from 3-5 pm EST.  Our a cappella version of "There is a Ship" is featured among the ballads and jigs.  Hope you'll give them a listen at:


Songwriting features prominently in our March experiences as Roberta will take part in a songwriting panel at Grailville for their 3rd Sunday Poetry series. Songwriters and poets, Mary Kroner, Bucky Ignatius, and Bet Stewart will join Roberta in discussing poetry from a songwriter's perspective.


For more info about signing up for this event:




March 26 is the fourth weekend of ArtsWave.  Roberta will be presenting a demonstration of wellness and recreational drumming at Evendale Cultural Center from 11:30am-12:30pm.  No experience necessary and drums will be provided!  Come enjoy a fun hour of relaxing drums.




Later on March 26, Violet Rae, Vickie, and Roberta will join Tracy Walker for a songwriters-in- the-round event at SWAN DAY. Womensway KY/OH and Women Writing for a Change will support a day of women in the arts at Women Writing for a Change's venue on Plainfield Rd. from 1-6 pm.  The songwriters will share their music from 1:45-3:00pm.




Hope to see you at one of these fun events.


Raise on, and don't defer those dreams!


Best of 2010, Says Raison D'Etre



Top Ten Raison D'Etre Experiences in 2010


It's that time of year when everyone takes inventory of the big news stories for the year and blogs their choices for the best books and albums. There's even a segment on most news programs about who left us this year.  But this will be the only list of the most enriching experiences for three women who live to sing together. We could compile a list of the most draining experiences, too, but we'd really prefer to focus on the blessings.


10.  Party Like it's 1949!


One of the on-going delights in our musical life is performing for Creative Aging Cincinnati. While many of our contemporaries in the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area also perform for the hundreds of senior facilities in our area, we feel that these shows strengthen us musically and spiritually. While we've had a swing alter-ego called the Swing Canaries since 1993, performing frequently for folks who know the great tunes of that Era forces us to hone our chops. As in if you're singing for people who actually heard the Andrews Sisters, by golly, you'd better bring it. 


And because we do Swing Canaries more often now, we decided to improve the show with new(to us) tunes and arrangements. This year we added "Bie Mir Bist Du Schoen" and our own arrangement of "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree" where Violet Rae plays her bari uke. And as Dan Fogelberg would say, "the audience is heavenly."


We've expanded our Creative Aging offerings to three shows as a trio or duo:


Swing Canaries, Sister Acts, and Songs of the Old West.


If you'd like to help Creative Aging continue to provide stimulation and involvement for their clients, they welcome contributions:


9. I Want to Go to the Ballgame


Speaking of swing, Raison D'Etre had the wonderful opportunity to work on a vintage baseball song for the upcoming documentary, "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend," a Sarah Knight film.  Sarah did the documentary, "Hot Flash" about the feisty trio, Saffire: the Uppity Blues Women. "Diamonds" is her project about the only woman groundskeeper in  major league baseball.  Roberta looked for a vintage baseball tune during the summer that she thought would convert to a swing arrangement a la Andrews Sisters. Womensway staff researched the song and set up a meeting with the Jump 'n Jive Show Band.  Arranger and musician, Jim Pelz came up with a swingin' chart.  And the end result is that Raison D'Etre delivered a final mix to Sarah Knight of both an acoustic version and a big band version of the song. Several months, two studios, and lots of community cooperation later.  We look forward to the film's debut.


8. Git Along Little Dogies.


Our third year of playing at The Old West Festival turned out to be an every week gig.  We originally agreed to our usual stint of three weekends, but were soon pressed into weekly service because of a cancellation. This would become a theme in our booking year, as I'll explain soon.  Sometimes just being ready and saying yes pays off.


Being there every week helped us meet so many more of the street cast people (who are a merry bunch.) If you haven't been to the Old West Festival yet, it is one of the most family friendly attractions in our area run by some community-minded people who truly love what they are doing. There's a replica of Dodge City, horse shows, theme weekends where you are encouraged to play dress up, lots of music from the period, vintage baseball games, medicine shows, saloon shows featuring some melodrama and some really fun can-can girls, wagon and train rides, cowboy church, and the big hit of the day, gunfights. And awesome barbeque.


Hope to be there next year:


7.   Swing Canaries Go Public


Since 1993, we have performed our Swing Canaries set for museums, military reunions, Veteran's Day events, and Creative Aging.  However, this year we received our first call from a summer concert series wanting to book us for their Friday night outdoor event in Frankfort, KY.  We were inspired to polish up our new songs for the occasion.  Highlights from that concert:  several Asian students jitter-bugged to "Boogie Woogie,"our stage was located on the Old Capitol lawn  we saw a friend from Morehead at the concert who also took some great photos, we ate at the Coffeetree and said hi to its darling owners, Mary and Walt, Roberta ran into former students, and we played for thousands of people enjoying a perfect summer night.


6. World Equestrian Games--the Kentucky Experience Stage: a Tough Choice


We were honored to be chosen for the Kentucky Experience roster of artists selected by the tourism regions of our state to possibly perform at the World Equestrian Games in September and October.  However, as the time for the games drew near, we received word that they did not have a stage appearance slot available for us.  We were kind of disappointed, but realized that we were booked every weekend at the Old West Festival anyway, so it probably wouldn't have worked out. Then, a week later someone was unavailable to fill their offered slot, so we were ready and said yes.  Remember that theme I mentioned?  


The honor was a bit tarnished by the fact that many of our friends dropped out of the WEG when they discovered that Alliance Coal was a sponsor for the Kentucky Experience Pavilion. We strongly felt that to drop out would harm our friends at the Kentucky Arts Council who were doing most of the leg work for scheduling and running the stage. So, we performed and sang Vickie's song about coal and her family's home place, "Another Train."  The acts who withdrew went on to perform a concert together at Memorial Hall in Lexington that featured Wendell Berry.  I still feel that we did what we had to do. Some things are just not black and white.


5. Dog Days of Summer Art Fair in Rabbit Hash--We Become Fine Art


Since Raison D'Etre used to pitch a family crafts tent at the Appalachian Festival in Cincinnati, we actually own a 10x10 crafter's tent.  Once a year, Roberta gets the hankering to drag it out to an Arts Fair. Since Rabbit Hash started a new Arts Fair and invited us to submit an application, we did so.  However, the plot thickened when they asked if we wanted to play at the Festival.  So, we borrowed Womensway's much simpler EZ-up and hit the road. The well-attended two-day festival was lots of fun.  And we'll probably do it again.


But the biggest hoot was while Violet Rae, Vickie and I were using the booth time to rehearse our Old West set.  A photographer came by and shot a photo.  She enjoyed it so much, that she framed it for her Art Opening at the Rabbit Hash Historical Society.  I made Gary take me to Old Timer's Day on our vacation so I could see us hanging in the gallery.  If you want to see the photo, it's up on Redbubble by the fabulous Jeanne Sheridan who is a rockin' diva and a great photographer now living in Rabbit Hash.


4. Playin' Favorites Top Ten Features Three Raison D'Etre Videos


One of the best experiences for us this year was the launch of Mudbrick Media's music video site in January.  They went from having maybe 8 or 10 artists to a full catalogue of videos featuring the likes of Happy Traum, Roy Bookbinder, Mack Bailey(of the Limelighters) and Rachel Levy, and Rhonda Hart with still more videos being added as we speak.  Since September, Mudbrick has conducted an online contest for its catalogue entitled "Playin' Favorites." One of our videos has been in the top ten every week. We hope you will check them out at


3. Hospice Hoedown and Benefit


While this was not one of the most joyous projects we took part in, it certainly involved the most love.  Our good friend and former bandmate, Dan'l Wilson, fell very ill during November and was told he had weeks to live. What he chose to do with his remaining time was awesome.  He told his daughter, Betsy, that he wanted to go home to his cabin and make music. So, for two Saturdays and one Sunday in November, that's what he did. His lifelong friend, Don Clare invited all the musicians who had crossed Dan's path and what transpired was a beautiful sprawling jam that showed just how much Dan's life affected others. On November 21, Chip Coburn and Norm Heck organized a benefit at Peecox II in Independence, KY where most of the bands Danny was in and some he influenced came to pay tribute to Dan'l and raise funds for his medical bills.  Raison D'Etre was honored to play a set at this event along with Don Clare, Cash Ownly and the Badaires, The Downtown County Band, Crosstie,, Foxfire Reunion, and Kentucky Myle. And we were even more honored to play Danny's beautiful song "Brown River" for him in person.


Dan'l left us on December 7, but his music and the love surrounding him will never leave. We are enriched by knowing him.


2. Airplay, airplay, airplay!


Raison D'Etre songs have been played in Australia, Israel, Great Britain, and the Netherlands on some fabulous folk radio shows. We've also enjoyed a constant internet radio presence on Women of Substance Radio theme and folk shows!


1. SERFA Builds Community!


Probably one of the best experiences of our year was attending Southeast Region Folk Aliiance's 3rd Annual Conference in the Ozarks.  We went last year and had a blast meeting folkies in our private showcases and performing for the Fast Pitch Showcase.


This year we had an official showcase on Thursday night, had our Old Kentucky Home showcase in our cabin, got to showcase for the Texas Sugarbaby cabin, were asked to take part in a harmony workshop with the likes of Still on the Hill, and Max & Ruth Bloomquist, experienced workshops by Michael Jonathan, Si Kahn, Jane Toohey, Kari Bedford, Ben Bedford, Jon Vezner, Kim Richardson, Jack Williams, Betty Frederickson and Denise Williams, and got to hang with Friction Farm,Kari Estrin, Clarke Buehling,Hannah's Whirl, Andy Cohen, Molly Andrews, Tom Verdot, and Clint Alphin.  The showcases were magical! Thanks to Kari Estrin for her vision and leadership.


If you don't know about SERFA and live in the Southeast, please check them out at


Next conference is at Montreat in the beautiful North Carolina mountains, May 19-21.


Happy New Year!

Raise on, and don't defer those dreams.








Deep in December Our Hearts Should Remember


and follow... It's early in December as I write this, but the scene outside my window could easily be midwinter. I am writing mainly to say thanks to all of you who have made this particular trip around the sun memorable for the gals of Raison D'Etre. You know who you are. You show up at the College Hill Coffee Company during the worst weather, you send us encouraging e-mails, you buy our CDs as presents, or you"like" Roberta's endless comments on facebook. You tell people about a trio of mature women who sing with all their hearts, and you know about the joys of dancing in the rain and googling yourselves. You care about the mountains, and love your dogs(or cats.) Thanks so much for making it easier to keep on keepin' on.


Our biggest news for December is that December the 31st is the final day to vote for our video, "This Kind of Rain 2010" in the Mudbrick Media Playin' Favorites Challenge. So, if you haven't voted already, please go to and show us some love! We are still offering voting prizes to anyone who e-mails me at to tell me that you voted. You can choose from a "Christmas Belles" CD, a "Heart's Content" CD or a lovely "Legacy" kazoo. We plan to record a new CD with the prize money--should we win--and will give you voting rights on what you'd like to see included. Ideas now are mostly original with a swing tune and a couple of traditionals(our usual formula,) or our entire Old West set. If you have any opinions on this, send them my way.


We recorded a vintage baseball song for an upcoming documentary being produced in New York. The documentary is about the only woman grounds keeper in major league baseball and is called "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend." While we're not sure which version the director will use for the film, i twas lots of fun working with the Jump 'n Jive Swing band to record a swing version a la Andrews Sisters for which arranger Jim Pelz wrote a swinging chart. Raison D'Etre also recorded our own trio version of the song. We'll let you know when the program airs. AIR PLAY Speaking of air, Raison D'Etre is happy to be included in Women of Substance Radio's holiday playlists five days a week until December 31. You can listen to these fabulous holliday shows by going to The shows begin daily at 2 pm, M-F, EST. We are also thrilled that "Tales from the Tall Side" continues to get international airplay in Australia, Great Britain, the Netherlands, and Israel.


An early alert for our list members that we are co-producing a home town concert in Newport, KY with the Footlighters at their beautiful Stained Glass Theatre on February 12 as part of their Footlighters Concert Series. Ticket holders will be able to enjoy a Valentine's dinner at York Street cafe for a special discount and then come across the street for a one-of-a-kind concert with Raison D'Etre. We seldom get to do a full concert near our home, so we are really excited to collaborate with the Footlighters on their latest venture. Tickets will be available on their site in a few weeks. We hope you have a joyous holiday season.   


Who Knows Where the Time Goes?

"Across the morning sky, all the birds are leaving. How do they know it's time for them to go? Before the winter's fire, I'll still be dreaming. I do not count the time."--Sandy Denny(various versions of the lyrics) All day long yesterday I could not believe it was already November. Snuck up on me like the need for sweaters and the intermittent hum of the furnace. Truth is, I love this season and always have. The trees are not yet "bare, ruined choirs where late the sweet birds sang," but they are headed that way. Toward the spare beauty of late autumn. Conference Season! Raison D'Etre has a harvest of news to share with you in November. We traveled to Arkansas again this year for the 3rd annual SERFA Conference in Mountain View's Ozark Folk Center where we had an official showcase on Thursday and took part in the happy madness of guerilla showcasing on Friday and Saturday. Besides meeting all kinds of great folks and seeing our buddies from the Skirt Lifters, we witnessed the magic of workshops and performances by the likes of Molly Andrews, Jack Williams, KIm Richardson, Jon Vezner, Chuck Brodsky, Ben Bedford and Kari Abate, Still on the HIll, and Si Kahn. Plus, we were invited to do a harmony workshop with Ruth and Max Bloomquist and Still on the Hill on Thursday afternoon. The whole conference was warm, accepting, and just plain fun thanks to Kari Estrin and the conference committee. We can't wait to attend the next one. I(Roberta) represented Raison D'Etre at OAPN this October. Since I served on the conference committee this year, I went up early to help with getting the registration materials together at the Columbus Athenaeum. This conference also had a wealth of showcases and workshops; however, my favorite activity was joining in the artist jam on "Chain of Fools" and "Fly Me to the Moon" as a back-up singer. Congratulations to OAPN for a very successful 50th Anniversary. Please Vote for Our Video! I know. You've had it with negative political ads. So, please take a breather from voting for real--and thank you for doing your civic duty--and vote for your favorite(we hope) women's folk trio. We are in Mudbrick Media's "Playin' Favorites" video challenge until December 31, 2010 and could really, really use your help to win a recording grant. If you have already voted, thank you so much. You can still help us by asking your friends to vote for our video THIS KIND OF RAIN 2010 at We have currently sunk into third place and need your help to spread the word beyond our usual realm of contacts. We are willing to give prizes for your vote if you want them. All you have to do is e-mail me at to request a voting prize of "Hearts Content" CD, "Christmas Belles" CD or a lovely "Legacy" kazoo. Be sure to include a mailing address and a prize will be on its way to you. Hospice Hoedown for Danny Wilson Our good friend, songwriter and bass player, Danny Wilson, is in hospice care at his Boone County log cabin. If you know and love Dan'l, please drop by his cabin next Saturday November 6 with an instrument for jamming and a covered dish to share. Starts at noon thirty and goes to ???? Share your Danny love!

Help Raison D'Etre Win a Recording Budget

Dear Friends of Raison D'Etre, As some of you may know, we are on a music video label in Alabama called Mudbrick Media. They are super fine people who are trying to do some good for struggling musicians and their gulf coast community. Here's where we need your help. Mudbrick Media is running a $5000 contest--think of it as a generous recording grant--for the music video getting the most votes between now and December 31, 2010. All you have to do is go to their site and vote for the video you like the best. While Raison D'Etre is hoping you will vote for "This Kind of Rain 2010," there are lots of great videos on the site to view and vote for. You will be helping some lucky artist continue to make music in these hard times. Doesn't cost you anything but a few minutes to register, view the pull-down menu, maybe watch some videos if you have the time, and vote. It's that simple. Remember: one vote, one video. We'd sure love it if you voted for Raison D'Etre's "This Kind of Rain 2010," but if you vote at all, you will be helping Mudbrick spread the word about some great music. View videos at: Direct voting link: Thanks so much for your continued support. We'll let you know how we're doing in the polls. Sept. 14=Not in Top Ten. Sept. 15(after your involvement)=We're currently in 1st, 2nd, 8th and 9th place. Not too shabby! Keep spreading the word. Sept. 17=We are currently in 1st, 2nd, 9th and 10th. Remember: one vote,one video. The only way you can help after you vote once is to ask friends to vote! Sept. 30-Slipped into 2nd place. Could you ask your friends and family to vote?

The Dog Days Ate My Homework

Somehow, I totally missed posting a Raison D'Etre news item in July. I'll blame it on the fact that the period from July 1-20 was possibly one of the busiest stretches of days in my life. July started out looking like a leisurely month for Raison D'Etre. We played back-to-back Swing Canaries gigs the first weekend, one of them at the Cincinnati Museum Center for a Heritage Tour luncheon and the other for Downtown Frankfort's outdoor concert series on the Old Capitol lawn. I remember saying at rehearsal the night before the Heritage Tour, "well, July will be easy since we only have five dates booked." I had forgotten that my own schedule was stepping up for the month. Immediately after the 4th of July weekend, I realized my mistake. Not only had I signed up for the summer session of Practice of Poetry at Grailville on every Thursday afternoon with Pauletta Hansel, but I had also signed up for poet, Cathy Smith Bowers' "Abiding Image Workshop" on July 10. Cathy had come to Grailville during our worst snow storm of the year, so those of us who couldn't make the winter date were promised a summer session. All of those poetry sessions were wonderful, of course, but most of the writing I did during that time was my own. My HealthRhythms schedule also picked up during July with two sessions at Walton Senior Center and one at Active Day in Blue Ash. I kept thinking, "I'll get around to posting something about Raison D'Etre's wonderful midsummer adventures soon." But again, I didn't. So, you missed learning how much fun we had dressing up in period costume and debuting "Bie Mir Bist Du Schoen" for the Heritage Tour. Probably the most fun we're having with that tune is that Violet Rae is breaking out her bari uke and doing a little lead on the song. Vickie and I are also being our braver selves and trying our hand at a little klezmer-sounding riff each. We did the tune the next day at Frankfort's Downtown Concert Series and almost nailed the parts. However, it wasn't tight until we played at the Cincinnati Art Museum's celebration of American Song on July 11! I wanted to high-five Violet and Vickie after our lead sequence, but we still had to finish the song. Thanks to our friends who came out to those three concerts, bringing love, support and even pie. Gil Thurman captured the Frankfort party ambience in his photos of their event. So after the Art Museum, I took a deep breath and realized that my personal calendar was taking over. Kate Larken--singer/songwriter/publisher extraordinare-- e-mailed me to say that the Motes Books Gathering scheduled for Grailville July 16-18 was pretty much filled up and that my songwriting workshop might have as many as 21 participants. So I spent a couple of days getting my handouts together for this wonderful new adventure. In the meantime, my yearly Arts in Education Roster training was scheduled in Frankfort on the 13th, and I picked up a last minute solo booking from Creative Aging for my "Story Behind the Song" program. I gave up all hope of a website update for July when Gary scheduled a few vacation days for July 22 and 23. Then the gals of the Raison clan celebrated our sister, Rosanne's birthday with a lunch at the Greyhound Tavern. Let me tell you that all of this activity might have kept me from updating our news page, but it sure was invigorating. The Grailville Gathering turned out to be filled with really great writers of all genres--including a few songwriters--who styled our swarps into something special. We sang hymns, original songs, and the Rolling Stones, played avocado percussion, took turns holding the youngest member of the Gathering(five days), and shared writing. It was magical! Those of us who had work published in Motes Books' latest themed anthology, MOTIFv2: COME WHAT MAY, AN ANTHOLOGY OF WRITINGS ABOUT CHANCE were thrilled to receive our contributor copies at the Gathering. Following the Gathering I took a few days to get back to my exercise routine before Raison D'Etre finished out our month playing Acoustic Thursday on Fountain Square, following a talented singer/pianist/songwriter from Denmark, Tommy Hansen. The next day, we headed up the road to Wilmington, OH to close our performance month with two Swing Canaries shows and two more chances for "Bie Mir Bist Du Schoen." I love a complete cycle. Hope you are having a thrilling summer. Still missing the wonderful John Benjamin who left us on July 13. (Photo of John Benjamin sent to Kentucky Artist listserve by David Marshall.) Thanks, Carrie Nath! Raise on! And in John's honor... Never defer those midsummer night dreams. (you might end up on tv in Alabama!)

Just Because It's June

Just Because It's June I'm in denial, of course, but where did May go? Since I wrote you last, the garden is in, Raison D'Etre played Frankfort, Lexington, and Newport, KY, the theme show on Women of Substance Radio switched from mothers to fathers, and the class of 2010 is graduating. Time to show down and notice. We'll be noticing some wonders in our home area this June as we play at the gorgeous art fair, Summerfair, on June 6. We're up on the Vocal Arts Gazebo Stage at 2:30 pm that day, but the fair begins on Friday at 2 pm. If you live in the Greater Cincinnati Area, you owe it to yourself to take in the artistic wonders at this breathtaking fair during its weekend run at Old Coney Island Park off Kellogg. Hope to see you as we take our celebratory tour right after our set. June is also a time to notice some of the great music venues we get to play. Like College Hill Coffee Company & Casual Gourmet on June 12 as we present "Java, Jive, June," our two set concert at this unique coffee, dining, and relaxing establishment in College Hill. And if you live far away from us, you can always notice the great music on Women of Substance Radio which features one of our songs this month on "Honoring Fathers," a show that airs every Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday from 3:00-5:30 pm, EDT. Just go to and listen via their player. Of course, you can always find Raison D'Etre music and videos to download for your very own playlists at CD Baby, iTunes, and Mudbrick Media. Just check out our page for links to browse and buy: Raise on , June bugs, And don't defer those wondrous dreams.

Old Kentucky Home Kind of Month

Lots going on in Kentucky in May. Some of it not so good. The heavy rains over the first weekend all but washed out the Governor's Derby Day Celebration in Frankfort. When we arrived at 8:30 am, some hardy families were taking advantage of the the Capitol tours and enjoying a Kentucky Proud breakfast, but the crafters and artisans scheduled for the day had all packed up for home. Our would-be Governor's Stage was cordoned off with caution tape like a crime scene. We did what any harmony-singing group would do at that point, sighed a collective, "oh,well." and went off to find breakfast. The sun did manage to shine bright for the few minutes of the Derby itself which I watched from the comfort of my Wilder Elks Hall/basement. It's not really an Elks Hall, but would do in a pinch if the Elks ever needed it. My horse--which I choose solely from the name--did not come in, but I was really happy for that Dream Bet guy. Can you imagine how many friends he has now? The continued rain caused some major flooding in south Kentucky. I saw facebook reports from friends near Berea mentioning that some of them had to leave their homes. This morning's paper confirms that the flooding there was deadly. Kind of puts a few soggy public events in perspective. Today, with the sun shining bright, I am grateful that the heavy rain has subsided and hope this finds you safe and again looking forward to some spring celebrations. Raison D'Etre has a mini-tour of our old Kentucky home lined up for May. Friday May 7th will be our debut at Frankfort's Kentucky Coffeetree Cafe. This unique listening room features national touring acts on most weekends like Ann Rabson, New Found Road, Claire Lynch, and Sam Bush. There's a bluegrass bent to most of the touring acts, but many blues, jazz and other roots styles are scheduled as well. We are playing for Coffeetree's monthly event, First Friday, a poetry reading with music organized by some Kentucky poet laureates. We are really excited to be part of the event which will feature the poetry of Alex Taylor and Emilia Phiips. See the Kentucky Coffeetree website for details. Then on May 8th at 5 pm, we're headed over to Lexington for Downtown Lexington's Mayfest. This 16-year-old arts festival in Gratz Park runs from 10-6 on Saturday. Check calendar links for directions. And speaking of Kentucky arts and crafts, Newport has its own little haven for Kentucky food, music, and crafts at Kentucky Haus/ 411 E. 10th Street. We'll be there playing two sets on May 22 from noon-2. Plus, we'll probably sneak upstairs to check out the latest shipment of Bybee Pottery. Hope this finds you on the sunny side. Raise on, and don't defer those dreams! Roberta of the Raison Check out all of our video clips at Mudbrick's YouTube channel: Java5

"earth by april wish by spirit and if by yes"--e.e. cummings


Spring unfolded slowly this year. The snow did not want to let go. The chill would not leave the air. But today the forecast is for 76 degrees, and I've spent the last couple of weeks booking summer concerts for Raison D'Etre. The cycle resumes. Just wanted to report some of the adventures this folk trio enjoyed during the changes in season.

To start March with a lion of an event, we performed on the Blue Moon Stage at Kentucky Crafted: the Market. Kentucky Arts Council produces this stage of Performing Arts Directory music acts each year including classical, traditional, jug band, bluegrass, singer songwriters, and choral music. Plus, they offer our recordings to retail shops on the trade days and patrons of the Market during the retail days. The Market is such a feast for the eyes with all the crafts and visual art and for the ears with all the music, but probably the most popular aisle is the Kentucky Proud corridor where visitors can sample some of Kentucky's finest foods. I personally came home with some great barbeque sauce and some wicked hot mustard. Mark Brown sent us a few photos from our performance. Just so you can get the feel of the beautiful performance space:

On March 10, we headed up to Mason, Ohio to play our Swing Canaries set for Mason Christian Village. As usual, this lovely audience sang along with the standards they knew and danced to in their youth. It's always a pleasure to share these great songs with an audience who knows them well.

March became a lamb of a month when we headed up to College Hill Coffee Company for our "Beware the Jive of March" set. CHCC is our absolute favorite public gig because the patrons and management are such wonderful people. Imagine our surprise when we arrived to set up and found a gift bag of Raison D'Etre beer next to our tip jar. Tina, the owner, had been browsing Marty's Hops and Vines, the newest neighborhood establishment to open on her block in College Hill, when she saw the beer and thought of us. It is so great to feel welcomed. And the night just got better from there. Lots of friends stopped out to hear our sets including Erin and Mary Ann with two of Erin's school buddies, George and Nancy, Jim, Cathy and Bob Price with grandson, Henry and a whole table-full of moms-night-out led by our friend and my former SK student, Angie Gillespie. Some young women I hadn't seen since their high school days have blossomed into wonderful adults. Angie took this photo of us...

Also in March, Violet Rae's song "Alien" was featured on Women of Substance's theme show for the month entitled, "Conscience." Thanks to Bree Noble and her panel for selecting us to be heard on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. My song, "The Hard Truth," was also featured each Thursday on the Folk Show. If you'd like to listen in to the great music on Women of Substance while you work or surf the web, just go to the widget we have posted on our front page: Several of our songs are in regular rotation, including "Broken Radio" and "Another Train." The really cool thing about Women of Substance is that our song might just get played after someone like Stevie Nicks or Carrie Newcomer. We hope you'll give them a listen.

On March 29th we made our last appearance on Northern Kentucky Magazine with Nancy James. Insight is cancelling all local programming effective today, April 1st. I wish I could tell you that itis an April Fool's joke, but I can't. Yet another avenue for Northern Kentucky artists, teams, musicians, businesses, and community organizations has been slammed shut. We are so grateful for all that Nancy, Sandy and Pat did to connect our community. We'll miss them!

For April, we are working on adding some songs and arrangements to our Old West and Swing Canaries sets while our schedule is light. Only two shows this month for Bridgeway Pointe and Springdale Community Center. Hope to see you in May when the outdoor festival season gets underway. We'll be in Frankfort for a couple of shows and in Lexington for their MayFest Arts Fair.

Check the calendar for specifics:

Raise on, dear friends! And don't defer those budding dreams.

Roberta of the Raison


"February made me shiver..."

Snow Falling on Cedars(and Roofs, and Roads, and...) Icicles While not as socked in as the East Coast, our little corner of the world spent at least half of February in cancellation and rescheduling mode. We received 6 inches of snow near the beginning of the month(overnight on the 5th,) then another 6 inches before we could dig out from the first. And just after our neighbor came by with the huge construction implement to plow our long gravel drive mostly clear, we were treated to another 9 inches of fluffy white over the week of Valentine's Day. As I look out the office window onto the valley below our house, large swaths of 3-4 inch mini-glaciers still dot the hillside. Even a day of rain and a few days of sun were not enough to completely reveal the grass underneath. Since Violet was out of town for a travel convention, Raison D'Etre was on February hiatus. For once, I was really grateful that we hadn't scheduled the usual 4-5 February dates, as they would have most likely needed re-scheduling. Even with the snow, I was able to make most of my HealthRHYTHMS drumming sessions for February and review a couple of books for WVXU's "Around Cincinnati." HealthRHTYHMS Fine Arts Fund_resized (Photo by Janet Arno, Campbell County Library.) You can read about my adventures in my blog, "Braverself." if you're interested: Feel free to leave some comments. February meant a new theme show for Women of Substance Radio. We were proud to be included in their "Valentine's Show" which aired every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday from 3-7 pm. If you'd like to listen to their online programming while you work, we keep a widget on our homepage: Coming up in March for Raison D'Etre... We're excited to be included in the Blue Moon Stage line-up, produced by the Kentucky Arts Council, at Kentucky Crafted: the Market on March 6 at 1 pm and we're real happy to return to Cincinnati's best coffee venue, College Hill Coffee Company on March 12 from 7:30-9:30 pm. Hope to see you at one of these shows. Please come on by to talk and we can compare icicle stories. Hope you are staying warm, reading some, and listening to some good music! Raise on, dear friends! And don't defer those dreams... Roberta of the Raison

The Beat Goes On...

January is usually a quiet month for Raison D'Etre. In most years, we play maybe one fund raiser or possibly a concert near the Greater Cincinnati area. It's a time for me(Roberta) to tally up the past year and prepare for the new. Traditionally, we meet around Vickie's table and set some goals for the coming year of trio activities. The women of our family gather for Violet Rae's birthday. And that is pretty much the way January transpired until mid-month... Then Mudbrick Media put up a myspace site to promote our music videos. We're very happy with the design, photos, and videos. Please take a look when you get the chance, and let us know what you think. (photo by Brad Puckett) On January 15 and 16, Raison D'Etre took part in Rivertown Music Club's fund raiser for Susan G. Komen Foundation, "One More Girl on a Stage" at York Street Cafe in Newport, KY. On Friday we were delighted to share the Gallery Acoustic Stage with such acts as Shiny & the Spoon and Carole Walker while Lauren Houston and Tupelo Honey rocked the house in the Lounge. Saturday night, I helped out as the volunteer coordinator, working with some great rollergirl volunteers and other helpful members of the Rivertown Music Club community. Event mastermind, Kelly Thomas, performed tunes from her new CD with Ryan Malott in the Lounge on Saturday while the Acoustic Stage featured a diverse line-up of groups playing both standards and originals. I was especially impressed with a group called the Honneycombs. York Street Cafe was a wonderful venue for this fund raiser, offering three floors of fun. Raison D'Etre at "One More Girl" show(Kelly Thomas) Rollergirls and Teachers Volunteer(Jan Thomas) The end of the month was jam-packed with two Swing Canaries shows in Loveland and Sharonville and three HealthRHYTHMS drum sessions for me in Ohio. Suzie Timmer shot from New Year's Eve Coming up...Fine Arts Fund Sampler Weekend February 20 and 21. I will be leading HealthRHYTHMS drum sessions at Media Bridges in Downtown Cincinnati and at Campbell County Public Library in Cold Spring. No prior skill necessary, so I hope you'll drop in to have some fun with drums. It's free. Check our calendar page for details. It's hard to avoid hearing about and seeing the suffering in Haiti. There are so many ways to help. If you are thinking about buying CDs(like ours or anybody's) at CDBaby, for one more week, they are contributing a dollar from every sale to Haitian relief. Their offer started on January 25 and runs through this coming Friday February 5. If you buy one of our CDs from CDBaby this week, we will sweeten the deal by sending you a copy of our 2007 concert DVD, "Live @ Java 5." Just be sure you give CDBaby your name and address when you purchase our CD, and we will send you a DVD for free. Thanks for helping in any way you choose. Here's a link to get your shopping started: Hope to see you somewhere in the next month. Raise on! And don't defer those dreams.

Hit the Ground Running...


Well, here we are in a brand new decade! I've wanted to keep you up on Raison D'Etre happenings for December, but since I was so involved in making those things happen, the best I can do is bring you up to date on our whirlwind holiday experiences.

Noel in November?

Every year Raison D'Etre ends up doing some caroling since we have our little caroling books stocked with at least three hours worth of our favorite holiday songs and our capes and bonnets at the ready. We add a few more favorites each Christmas based on whatever goals we set for ourselves in January. In most years, we might end up doing 4-5 holiday gigs, primarily in December. In 2008, our caroling crept into the pre-Thanksgiving window by a few days when we sang at Balluminaria and for the O'Bryonville Holiday Walk. But in 2009, we actually sang our first holiday songs on November 12 for Kentucky Historical Society and didn't put those books down until December 19! I think I counted 21 holiday gigs total, including three New Year's Eve events. So, I hope you'll forgive me for just now getting back to the Raison D'Etre desk.

Three New Videos on iTunes

Mudbrick Media invited us back to Mobile, AL in December to shoot three music videos from our Tales from the Tall Side recording. We did videos for "Don't Worry About Me," by Violet Rae, "Another Train" by Vickie and "This Kind of Rain" by yours truly. It was really fun performing in front of a green screen like the pros do while Mudbrick's team decided how to present our songs to the world. The music videos are available on iTunes now for $1.99 each. Hope you'll go take a look and tell us what you think.   

From Brad Puckett's photo shoot at the Bragg-Mitchell Mansion in Mobile:

How can we be three places at once?

My friend, Dixie, reported to me that she saw Raison D'Etre performing on INC6 on Christmas Day while the Schultz Family listened to us on WVXU's Around Cincinnati Christmas show. How could we be on cable TV, Cincinnati Public Radio and enjoying the holiday all at once? Through the miracle of digital footage and pre-recorded radio, of course. We also managed to be featured on CDBaby's Festive Folk podcast during December on the 10th and the 22nd. So, we seemed even busier than we were in real life!

Coming Up... We are so pleased to help Rivertown Music Club, led by that dynamo, Kelly Thomas, with the One More Girl on a Stage extravaganza which is two nights this year at the York Street Cafe. Hope to see some of you there.

January 15th and 16th!  Gonna be a great weekend!! Happy 2010, dear friends! Raise on, and don't defer those dreams...


Arkansas Travelers


Raison D'Etre spent a few days in the Ozarks this October as SERFA(South East Region Folk Alliance) held its 2nd Annual Conference at the Ozark Folk Center, a lovely mountaintop destination in Mountain View, Arkansas. While at the Folk Center, we showcased one song in the Fast Pitch showcase where each performer/act gets five minutes on stage to perform a song and "make the audience love you." All twelve acts managed to get on stage, set mics, intro songs, and get them performed in under the five-minute deadline. I was a little nervous about the whole deal since we chose my song, "This Kind of Rain," on a good day can run 4:30. Violet said she found the experience exhilarating. I was very relieved that we brought it in under 5:00. Here's a photo taken by Lauren LaPointe,(a fabulous singer songwriter from Savannah) of the Fast Pitch Showcase. We don't look too nervous.

The evenings of SERFA were filled with official showcases from 7-10:30 pm and then guerrilla showcases back in the cabins until 2 am. Those hearty souls who did not get enough music by 2 am were invited to attend the late night jams in the rec room. On Friday Folk Alliance sponsored an unofficial slot for us in their cabin. So, we were happy to perform a full showcase along with Emily Dowden(of the Dowden Sisters,) Happenstance, C. Daniel Boling, Marissa of Folk Alliance and John Stoecker.  

Raison D'Etre decided to bring a little Kentucky hospitality with us and host an in-room showcase on Saturday night. Due to a scheduling mix-up, our in-room was moved to the spacious rec room, so not only did we have snacks and snazzy talent, but also some pretty tasteful decor. All performers were asked to do at least one Kentucky-themed song. So, we were wowed with "Somewhere in Kentucky," (Laurie McClain did this earlier in her formal showcase, so we gave her a pass) "My Old Kentucky Home," (Chico Schwall played a masterful instrumental version,) "Paradise," (played by our Arkansas buddies, Brooks and Doug of Happenstance) and "Shady Grove," done by C.Daniel Boling who is a distant cousin of Jean Ritchie. And last, but certainly not least, Lauren LaPointe anchored that 1:30 am slot with "Blue Kentucky Girl" sing along. She rocks! Here's the poster we put together for the Old Kentucky Home” experience.

(photo by Gary Schultz of Wilder Ranch Road.)

We truly love the Ozarks, the Folk Center and their wonderful staff, and SERFA's board for putting together such a great conference. Can't wait to return to the Ozarks next October. Here's a little glimpse of the view from the lodge steps.

  (Photo by Vickie Ellis)

Back home now enjoying what's left of the Ohio Valley foliage. We arrived home just in time for the peak color. Hope to see you at some of our upcoming shows. For photos of our showcase performers, see our PHOTOS page. Raise on! And don't defer those dreams!


Down from the Mountain...


I spent the last week of September and the first few days of October on one of the highest mountains in North Carolina at a magical place called Wild Acres. There a circle of song writers--who are really starting to feel like family--gathers to experience each other's creative energy, a workshop and concert by a prominent song writer, lots of good food and conversation, a prompt-a-day, and informal jamming. This year we again shared the mountain with the Duke Writer's Workshop--a happy marriage of words and music. Turns out that lots of the Duke Writers sing and play as well. Marshall Chapman rocked the auditorium with her songs and stories. And the marvelous Zelda taught me the proper way to eat scuppernongs. Coming back with three new songs renewed my faith in my own ability to create, yet left me with an overwhelming homesickness for that particular sacred space. Thanks to Georgann Eubanks and Donna Campbell for leading us to Wild Acres each year, and to Mike House for his stewardship of place, and to all the other writers who have taken me in as family. Hope to see you next year. Pinnacle shot from Joe Pfister, 2008.

Raison D'Etre will travel to Arkansas' mountains this month to take part in the South East Region Folk Alliance's second annual conference at the Ozark Folk Center. We have a Fast Pitch Showcase, a late night Folk Alliance Showcase, and are hosting our own Old Kentucky Home showcase in our room where the participants must contribute either a Kentucky-themed song or snack. We look forward to meeting folkies from all over the country at SERFA while we take in the beauty of the Ozarks.

The Old West Festival winds up for 2009 on the weekend of October 10-11. It's enjoying some real growth in patronage this year, so here's hoping you get out to Brown County, OH before you have to wait a whole year to play cowboy/cowgirl. We're up on the Dodge House Stage one more time this season--October 10 from 1:30-3:30 pm. C'mon out Route 32 to see us before we sing "Happy Trails."

Medicine shows, lassos, gunfights, and saloon dancers. Lots of crafts, food, and interesting characters. Raise on, Pardners!

And don't defer those dreams.

Roberta of the Raison


"and the leaves that are green turn to brown."

--Paul Simon August brought us a few Dog Days, but certainly not as many as we’ve had the past few years. In fact, my dog, Maggie May, is lounging away in the side yard on this pleasant end-of-summer day enjoying the sights, sounds and smells that go along with that first hint of chill in the air. No doubt we’ll still have a few hot and humid days coming up, but today everything feels swept clean. Raison D’Etre’s August schedule was almost leisurely, giving us the time to enjoy seeing those of you who ventured out from your busy lives to share an hour or two with us. On perhaps one of the most humid evenings all summer we played at the Dilly Deli’s fabulous courtyard space. The owner, Chuck, came out to greet us remarking that “whoa, it looks like Woodstock out here.” While we were puzzling over whether or not we looked like love children, we finally decided he was noting that there was a pretty big outdoor crowd for a Saturday night. It was a hot, hot night, but a great time playing three sets for appreciative and fun people. Thanks especially to Charlie and Gayle for coming by and to the really nice table of partiers who stayed around for the late set and bought our CDs. Plus, our waitress rocked. The following week brought us to Joseph Beth Booksellers with two indoor sets amid the volumes. We love bookstores and bookstore people! Violet Rae and Vickie were happy to greet friends from Morehead State University’s Drama Department who gathered with the gals for some merriment at Don Pablo’s following our sets. We were very pleased to see our good friend, Dixie, who brought a friend along, and it was great to see Medicine Woman, too. Thanks to all who came by to listen, buy a CD, or just plant a kiss on Berta’s unsuspecting cheek between songs--love ya, Stuart! Big thanks to Barb Hudson for having events like this instore. August 22 sent us on an adventure to Shepherdsville, KY where Bullitt County Library has a wonderful concert series for their patrons. Charlie and Randy(Programs and Director, respectively) told us that the crowd would be great, but we weren’t prepared for how much they listened to every word and took part in the banter. Musicians--song writers, especially--live for this kind of exchange. Bravo, Bullitt County Library! We enjoyed every minute of our time with you. And, of course, some of our friends from the Louisville area showed up. It was so wonderful to see Cookie, Kathy, Donna, and Erin and her beautiful twins! Some months are just meant to savor, and this year, August was that month for us. Good thing we had that savoring time, because September promises to be a whirlwind. We’re playing two fund raisers that we’d like to call to your attention here, and of course, The Old West Festival will be getting underway on September 12. We’re playing our cowgirl set at the Old West Festival on Sept. 12, 27, and October 10, but the Festival runs for 5 consecutive weekends beginning September 12. Be sure to find your way out highway 32 into Brown County for a unique experience for the family. Download and print out a “Side Kick Discount” at this link: Old West Fest Discount The 2nd Annual Bluerock Music Festival is coming up on September 19 from 1-8 pm at Blue Rock Farm. EG Kight, blues sensation, is the headliner with Raison D’Etre, Tracy Walker and Jake Speed & the Freddies playing opening sets for her. Hope to see you there, It’s fun, family-friendly, and fabulous. Last, but not least, is Grailville’s 65th Anniversary Bash. Come on out to Loveland to shake the hand that feeds you! Hope you’re enjoying the changing of seasons. Raise on! And don’t defer those bountiful dreams! Roberta Scribe of the Raison

Cool Beans: One for the Record Books

I couldn’t turn on a TV anywhere in Greater Cincinnati without hearing the pronouncement that this July was one for the record books. According to the scribes who note these trends, we haven’t had a July this cool since 1947. Well, I agree, but for different reasons. Sure, I’m enjoying the bounty from the garden that steady rain brings. And I cherish the below 80 temperatures any day. But, the cool I’m feeling is from all the great experiences Raison D’Etre basked in this month. The ones that make me resort to that 1980s favorite saying of my former student, Kelly Webster from Simon Kenton, who often said “cool beans.” Our performance month started 12 days into July with a trip to the Chautauqua community of Lakeside on Lake Erie. We played on the town Gazebo for the summer concert series where Lakeside Association was auctioning off some unique Adirondack chairs for the benefit of programming and recreation. Artists from the community had painted each chair in a different theme. What a delightful way to raise funds for everyone’s benefit while nurturing the creative spirit! The auction participants--plus Lakesiders who brought their picnics to the park--formed a receptive audience for our music. Many stayed around afterwards just to talk. View of the chair auction audience from the stage: From the stage. Thanks to Shirley Stary for inviting us back to this one-of-a-kind destination. We stayed around the next day to do our “Lakeside in a Day” tourism which included sampling just about every restaurant, walking all the streets, and swimming in Lake Erie. Cool breezes prevailed. After swimming shot from Vickie's phone: After swimming/ Last look at the pier before we headed home: Lakeside, pier view. For more photos of this lovely town, here’s a link to our photo page: The next weekend we had two fulfilling performances at home. July 17 brought us back to the Queen City Balladeers’ summer showcase in Eden Park, Edensong. We shared the stage with other acts beginning in the letter “r.” Cool coincidence? You decide. Rubber Knife Gang Rabbit Hash String Band Raison D’Etre The Tillers(OK, no “r.” at the beginning. but there is an “r.”) Ricky Nye It was a picking and singing good time back stage and onstage. Thanks to the Balladeers for 46 years of putting on these concerts. And we really love our cool T-shirts! The next night we returned to College Hill Coffee Co. to a fairly packed house of friends and family. Women from Grailville’s “Practice of Poetry” sessions showed up, so I felt that the pressure was on. These women listen to lyrics because they are awesome writers. Thanks to Tina and Phyllis and all the great staff at CHCC for welcoming us “home.” They have both the “cool” and the “beans” since they combine them so well in delicious iced coffee. And what could be cooler than a standing ovation? We were privileged to receive that honor at Sycamore Senior Center for our July 22 performance of “Sister Acts,” our musical journey through some of the great singing sister acts of the last century. We adore singing these great songs for the appreciative and discerning audiences who often heard them from the original acts. Violet Rae and I debuted our duo version of “Swing Canaries,” on the following Saturday at The Anderson. We’ve been singing this catalogue of 1930s and 1940s songs for well over 13 years, but this was the first time we performed it as a duo string band. Even though I forgot my sheet music, our cooler heads reigned as we shared VRae’s lead sheets, and I played “Sentimental Journey” from short term memory. We concluded July with a seasonably warm and humid evening in Arnold’s courtyard. What was cool about that, you may ask. Well, it’s Arnold’s for one. And Joe Zerhusen dropped by after his shift as the Reds' announcer to say hello. So good to see Joe after all these years! We hope you’ve enjoyed the cooler than normal July. I sure have. Thanks to every one of you who bless us with your presence. Raise on, dear ones... And don’t defer those “cool beans” dreams!

Love You Like a Tomato

“...true love and home grown tomatoes.”--Guy Clark Summer’s here for real. Fourth of July, fireworks, and the very first of those home grown tomatoes are ripening on the vine. No doubt you will hear Guy’s song performed at a few outdoor concerts this summer at Farmer’s Markets, coffee shops, and festivals. Most likely you’’ll hear a version or two on your favorite Front Porch type radio show. Raison D’Etre doesn’t do Guy’s song since many of our close musical compadres already do their own bang-up arrangements; however, we share his passion for the unparalleled flavor that only a home grown specimen can bring. I have a theory that home growns taste better because the careful work of our own hands draws in some kind of supportive energy from the universe. Or maybe the plants themselves respond to the adoration of constant watering, weeding, and preening just like people do, leaning toward the warm light of our hopes, not wanting to disappoint. Maybe after being cared for so patiently and particularly, they just want to give us their best. Whatever the reason, I am grateful for the miracle of red and plump. So, to celebrate the beauty of those home grown wonders, I include a glimpse of my first homegrown tomato for 2009. It tasted every bit as good as it looks... Raison D’Etre had a bumper crop of June experiences including a Creative Aging mini-tour of our Swing Canaries show. We shared some songs from the 30s and 40s with the lovely folks at St. Charles Adult Day, Wilson Salvation Army(our favorite sing along group,) and the residents of The Lodge of Montgomery. Bill Schinkal sent us a few shots of the Wilson Salvation show, posting them on their website as well. Take a look at his shots on our photo page at We were delighted to help out with the Hope Emergency Fundraiser which took place at the Old West Festival grounds on June 6. Madame Gigi’s CanCan Dancers, Raison D’Etre, and the gunfight re-enactors performed for the revelers as they ate some wonderful barbeque dinners and enjoyed the ambience of Drew Deimling’s wonderful attraction. Be sure to check out this great home grown festival this fall because it’s fast becoming a destination for families who want to experience some colorful American history and family fun without truly leaving the Cincinnati area. Time to dust off that cowboy hat and explore, pardner. And what would June be without some downtown Cincinnati music events? Fountain Square hosts several free music events under the umbrella of the PNC Summer Series. Raison D’Etre was happy to play a set on June 25 for the lunch crowd. Pru Hunt preceded us with a half hour of her original tunes about Cadillacs, Tom and Huck, and the Ohio River. I (Roberta) joined her for some harmony on a couple of those tunes. It was the hottest day so far, but hey, now all of us are well-tempered for the Dog Days ahead. Hope to see you somewhere this summer. We have lots of home grown concerts coming up as well as a few adventures out of town. Until next time... Raise on, dear friends... And don’t defer those ripening dreams! Roberta of the Raison

Derby News, Grailville Views, and Swarpin' Good Gatherings

Raison D’Etre’s had a busy May! Here’s hoping that your month has been as much fun as ours. We started out the first weekend with an Elderhostel Concert in Northern Kentucky saluting the Kentucky Derby, then headed due south for The Governor’s Derby Day Celebration on the Capitol grounds where we played a set on the Capitol Stage following some savory Stephen Foster singers and some tasty bluegrass. And did I mention food? The state parks were serving up some great breakfast sandwiches while kids took part in a stick horse derby on the hour. We were worried how the downturned economy would affect the Derby spirit, but everyone was decked out in crazy hats and Kentucky smiles. So, the sun shines bright indeed. From the Erlanger Elderhostel group who were discussing their Derby picks with us to my former student and super soundman at the Governor’s event, Matt Roser, everyone was ready for the Seabiscuit type Derby we had this year...underdogs cheering for the underdogs! The following week, I(Roberta) took a couple of days to attend the KPAN training facilitated by Jean St. John of Covington’s Center for Great Neighborhoods and Arts in Education Roster Artist, Pat Ritter. Many of Kentucky’s teaching artists gathered at Happiness Hills Retreat Center in Berea, KY for a fabulous two-day training in marketing. Below are a few photos courtesy of Jennifer Rose and Alfredo Escobar that show us hard at work learning the finer points of marketing our services and products via social networking. Happiness Hills Retreat House  Conference Space The Conference Space & Housing Artists at work Artists at Work Learning to Twitter Supper at the KPAN Supper, oh, yeah! Later that weekend Raison D’Etre played two sets for the “Family Matters” art exhibit at Grailville Retreat Center in Loveland, OH. It was a beautiful Mother’s Day event with a feast at 5:30 pm. Parents, children, and art lovers browsed the exhibit and roamed the Grailville grounds in search of the farm’s spring babies. Poet and Co-Director, Pauletta Hansel, offered up her husband, Owen, as our long as we returned him in time for the Feast! May 16 took us back to College Hill Coffee Co. for two sets. We were a little concerned that the lovely weather would keep people outdoors way past our 7:30-9:30 sets, but folks came on over to this friendly neighborhood establishment to have some food and fellowship. I heard that the College Hill Historical Society was even in attendance. How’s that for supporting your neighborhood businesses? As always, Tina and her staff treated us great, and we had an especially grand night for singing. Pru Hunt and I(Roberta) took a little three-day jaunt down to Greenbo Lake State Park for the very first Gathering of Writers and Songwriters organized by MotesBooks dynamo, Kate Larken. The 30-some writers and songwriters who showed up for this workshop/retreat were thrilled to receive classes, readings and performances from Marianne Worthington, Anne Shelby, Silas House, Jason Howard, Kate Larken and Sue Massek(Reel World String Band.) Plus we had the opportunity to share our pieces in an “open mic” setting each evening. Every shared piece was incredible, making me think “wow, I’m so lucky to be with these people for a couple of days.” At the end of each activity-packed day--we were also invited to hike to a cemetery, go on a pontoon boat ride, and take a wild flower hike--we engaged in a magic mountain tradition called a “swarp.” The swarps went on until the wee hours. And I am proud to say, so did I! Here’s a photo of most of our group on the last day. Thanks to Silas House who took the shot via timer. If you are in need of something to jumpstart your writer soul, this is the Gathering! f=""> We hope to see you at some of our upcoming performances. We’ll be at Summerfair on May 30, a fundraiser for Hope Emergency at the Old West Festival on June 6, and you can even catch us at Fountain Square in Cincy for a lunch concert, June 25th. Check our calendar page for details: Until next time, Raise on! And don’t defer those swarpin’ dreams...

April Showers May Come Your Way

“It’s raining violets...” So says the song “April Showers.” We’ve certainly had our share of rain this month, bringing the violets to my old Kentucky home right on time...white ones, light ones, and deep purple ones. April is one of those months that requires some belief in the promise of Spring. Skies can feel so vast and gray sometimes, but then we see the redbuds and the violets and the profusion of bluebells along the creek on the way to Easter at the Hickeys, and we know that April is going to deliver again. Because April is notoriously non-busy for Raison D’Etre, we use it as a month to rehearse, retool, and re-vision. We’re hard at work on some new songs for our Sister Act show, adding a few cowboy songs to our Golden Girls of the West set, and putting the finishing touches on a few of the original songs from TALES FROM THE TALL SIDE that have not yet made it into our regular sets. In addition, we’re planning our harmony workshop for Grailville next month. We also took some time to host Carla Gover--formerly of Zoe Speaks--for a house concert on April 10th. At our house in Wilder, we are able to host concerts for up to 30 guests in our “Elks Hall”-looking basement. So far, we’ve hosted The Troubadours of Divine Bliss, Anita Camarella and Davide Facchini, and now Carla. Carla’s concert was inspiring, as she shared many new compositions-in-progress, some of her familiar songs from Zoe Speaks, and a few very interesting ballads that she studied in her recent fellowship at the Berea College folk music archives. To give you an example of how organic Carla’s concerts are, she asked me to sit down with her a few minutes before the first set to try out a descant she’s writing for one of her newest songs inspired by her ballad studies. She just wanted to see if it would fit into the song the way she’d envisioned. Then before the end of the set, she called me up to try the part. It was really fun for me and the audience to be both involved in and witness to the creative process. For a few more photos of the Carla Gover Concert, go to our photos page: We have several public performances coming up next month where you can hear the results of our April wood-shedding. If you ‘re in Frankfort on Derby Day, we’ll be up on the stage at 11:30 am performing some of our newest songs from TALES FROM THE TALL SIDE. And mid-month, we’ll be back at College Hill Coffee Company for two spring sets. And finally, we’re excited to have some new songs to debut on The Vocal Arts Gazebo Stage at Summerfair. Until then, “keep on looking for a bluebird, and listening for his song Whenever April showers come along.” Raise on, and don’t defer those blossoming dreams!

"You do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself around..."

And that’s what it’s all about in this children’s dance song. A couple of weeks ago, after digging out from an ice storm/snow storm/deep freeze again, my husband Gary and I decided that the Hokey Pokey was pretty much a philosophical statement for people who put their “whole self” into what they’re doing every day while still remembering that even the struggle can be joyful. So we did the hokey pokey around the kitchen for a few minutes and shared a really good belly laugh in our snow gear. We know about the Hokey Pokey in our area mainly because of a TV performer called “Uncle Al” who invited us to jump around in our jammies in front of the set, or to attend his broadcasts all “gussied up” for the camera. He was on air in Cincinnati from 1950-1985, an astonishingly long run for any kind of television program. In his trademark straw hat and ubiquitous accordion, he advised us to “put your toys away, don’t delay...” and told our moms all about Barq’s root beer, cream soda, and Mama’s Cookies, the local sponsors who brought us our daily installment of Captain Windy, Uncle Al, Hattie the Witch and the other characters inhabiting this dance along, sing along adventure world. Al Lewis--the real guy behind the Uncle Al magic--left us this week at age 84. He’s inspired a few generations of humans to do the hokey pokey and turn themselves around... and that’s what it’s all about. Try doing a few rounds of the hokey pokey in your kitchen when you’re having a particularly rough day. If you’re anywhere near a mirror, I’m telling you, it’s a big cure for what ails you. Last month, Raison D’Etre put our whole selves into launching our dual release of “Tales from the Tall Side” and “Swing Canaries.” Bev Holiday hosted a release event at Kentucky Haus Artisan Center for “Swing Canaries” near the beginning of the month, while Tina Stoeberl scheduled us for our “Tales from the Tall Side” release concert at her comfortable coffee establishment, College Hill Coffee Company, on Valentine’s Day. We were overwhelmed by the loving support at both events! Thanks so much to those of you who carved time out of your busy lives to share it with us. And thanks to WVXU’s Lee Hay and Brian O’Donnell for the “Around Cincinnati” segment, and we’re grateful to WNKU for giving us some inaugural spins on Music with O’D and Morning Music with Michael Grayson. And a very big thanks to Nancy James and Sandi Megowen of Northern Kentucky Magazine. Violet Rae was very excited about her time on the interview couch. So what if we never actually made it in to the Uncle Al Show(our mom worked during the broadcast hours.) Being interviewed by Nancy James is always enjoyable. This month we continue with another release event. We’re honored to play at the 10th Anniversary Show of Music Cafe at the Fitton Center in Hamilton, OH. Check our calendar page for a link to their website: And if you’d like to read the latest article about our dual release, Ryan Clark talked to us recently for the Cincinnati Equirer: Raise on, dear friends... And don’t defer your chance to do the hokey pokey! Roberta of the Raison

Stay, little Valentine, stay...

“You make me smile with my heart.” --Rodgers/Hart Back when I used to practice singing in Ed Yelton’s woods, “My Funny Valentine” was one of my favorite songs. A girl could gingerly climb over the barbed wire fence--to keep the cows in, not me out, I reasoned--and be very far away in a few jogs through the knee-high golden grass. Once I found the shaded canopy of the hickory, sassafras, and maple trees, I could stand on the upper edge of the cow path overlooking the little frog pond and sing just as loudly as I pleased. The deep impression carved by the creek transformed that spot in the woods into a natural amphitheater where I could hear every note of the song bounced clearly off the hardwoods. Back then, I think I enjoyed the song purely for its melody which seemed smoky, mysterious, and grown-up. I was a sucker for anything minor, modal, or major 7th. But lately, I think I love the song for its theme of total acceptance. Who wouldn’t want be loved even if their looks are “unphotographable?” And who wouldn’t want to be described as someone’s “favorite work of art?” I’m now happily a sucker for paradox. If you’d like to enjoy a unique interpretation of this song, I’ve included a link to a video of Rickie Lee Jones. February News 1. “Swing Canaries” release event 2. “Tales from the Tall Side” release events 3. Raison D’Etre on the radio and TV 4. Where to buy the new recordings. Swing Canaries at Kentucky Haus We’re having a release event for our swing compilation, “Swing Canaries,” at Bev Holiday’s wonderful Kentucky Haus Artisan Center on February 7th from noon-2 pm. We’re doing an all-swing set at noon, and will debut some tunes from “Tales from the Tall Side,” as well as our other recordings during set two. Bev carries food, pottery, jewelry, and music by Kentucky artisans. Visit her lovely shop at “Tales from the Tall Side” Release Events Our seventh recording, “Tales from the Tall Side” includes 8 original songs plus a little swing, a little cowgirl, and a beautiful anthem to Northern Kentucky written by Boone County bassist and song writer, Daniel Wilson. Release concerts include our next appearance at College Hill Coffee Company and Casual Gourmet on February 14th and our upcoming March 24th performance at Music Cafe in Hamilton, OH. Hope to see many of you in the weeks to come. Raison D’Etre “on the air” “Tales from the Tall Side” has been getting airplay on WNKU and WYSO in the past week. Listen for us on Brian O’D’s show, Valentine’s Day, February 14 @ 11:30 am on WNKU and on an upcoming episode of “Around Cincinnati” on WVXU. Cable subscribers can find us on “Northern Kentucky Magazine,” Insight Channel 6 on February 5th for an interview with host, Nancy James, and a few tunes. We’ve been getting a lot of play on an internet station called “Women of Substance Radio.” The folk shows featuring our songs air at 7-8 pm(so that’s probably 4-5 pm our time since the station is in California) on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We’re also in their regular rotation, so we could pop up other times amid the big stars of women’s music. Tune in at “Swing Canaries” and “Tales from the Tall Side” On Sale... You can buy our latest recordings at the Kentucky Artisan Center in Berea, KY, at Kentucky Crafted: the Market February 21-22 in Louisville, KY, at Kentucky Haus Artisan Center, and of course at CD Baby and iTunes. Here's hoping that February brings you higher love! Raise on, Little Valentines, And don't defer those work of heart dreams. "Each day is Valentine's Day." Roberta Raison D'Etre

Waiting for January Thaw

In mythology, Janus was the god who could face two ways: toward the past and the future. We make a big deal out of January each year when we celebrate the arrival of a new calendar year and even note the importance of the month by inaugurating our President in this space of time that marks endings and beginnings. And so we have at least two vestiges of Janus in our language: “January” and “janitor”--a month for taking inventory on the past year and beginning a new one and a person who takes care of the doorways and hallways to sweep them clean. As the janitor for Raison D’Etre, I proudly and carefully look over the highlights of our 2008 and document them in a photo journal on this page: So, take a look before I get broom happy and sweep them away for newer adventures. In honor of Janus, Raison D’Etre has added two new recordings to our Detremental Records catalogue. It took us most of 2008 to produce our latest CD, TALES FROM THE TALL SIDE, a 12-song collection with 8 new originals, a controversial song from the 1940s, one cowboy tune, a familiar sing-along, and a beautiful anthem to Northern Kentucky penned by our friend, Danny Wilson. We had a lot of fun recording at Group Effort Sound Studios. So much fun that we asked Dan Murphy what would be involved in putting together a compilation of our swing music. So the part of Raison D’Etre facing the past is that collection entitled SWING CANARIES while TALES FROM THE TALL SIDE urges the listener to “find a new beginning” on the first track which is called “Braver Self.” You can now--as of this Inaugural Week--find both of our newest recordings on CD Baby at the following links: We hope you’ll go give them a look, listen and maybe even a purchase, if you are so moved. So far in January we’ve found a new beginning by taking part in the One More Girl on a Stage whole house concert at the Southgate House on January 10. 14 women-fronted acts played in the parlour, lounge, and ballroom of Newport’ s rocking mansion for the benefit of the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the Julie Martin Memorial Fund. While it’s still up, take a look at Violet’s photo in The Cincinnati Enquirer: The photographer caught her playing kazoo on a song from our new CD, “Legacy.” Here’s hoping that you are finding some new beginnings this first month of 2009. I’ll be sweeping out the hallways here in Raison D’Etre land to make room for all those new adventures. Raise on! and don’t forget to make a clean sweep for those dreams... And speaking of dreams, have a safe and meaningful Martin Luther King, Jr. Day! Roberta, the Janitor

Mom, Kurt, and Armistice

"So I will throw Veterans' Day over my shoulder. Armistice Day I will keep. I don't want to throw away any sacred things. What else is sacred? Oh, Romeo and Juliet, for instance. And all music is."--Kurt Vonnegut, BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS November 11th is a sacred day for me because of this quote, our mom’s birthday and, of course, because of Kurt Vonnegut. He was born on this day and begins BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS with a little explanation of the meaning of this date to WWI veterans: “It was during that minute in nineteen hundred and eighteen, that millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one another. I have talked to old men who were on battlefields during that minute. They have told me in one way or another that the sudden silence was the Voice of God. So we still have among us some men who can remember when God spoke clearly to mankind.” If I were teaching high school today, I would begin my writing workout session with a reading of Kurt’s quote and a brief sharing of the cartoons in BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS. Later in the day I would notice that the paperback copy of that book had disappeared from the book rack and that several sophomore boys were gathered in the back of the room giggling. And I would rejoice. More reading victims lured in by Kurt’s cartoons. Raison D’Etre is reminded of November 11 several times a year when we play for military reunions as the Swing Canaries. We’ve been performing that show since the 50th Anniversary of D-Day at the Cincinnati Museum Center, so well over 13 years! However, most of our swing era tunes are spread over 6 of our recordings. In January 2008, we decided to make it one of our goals this year to release a compilation recording of these songs. So, now we have! SWING CANARIES, our 6th CD, is now available for anyone who wants all of our recorded swing songs on one disc. You can reserve your copy by sending us $12.00(check payable to Raison D’Etre, includes postage) at our contact address at this website: In a few weeks it will be available on CD Baby for those who like to order through that great on-line service. We’ll keep you posted. Raise on, and don’t defer those dreams! Roberta

"Sometimes you just know..."

“Leaves don’t drop, they just let go, And make a place for seeds to grow.”--Carrie Newcomer So many seeds planted in my head from the incredible beauty and weightless grace that is SOLATIDO. Violet Rae, Vickie and I packed up the Jeep and headed for the highest mountains in North Carolina ostensibly to hone our song writing skills among the other 23 song writers who gather at Wild Acres Retreat Center each year, each soul hoping to give full rein to the creative process. But, so much more happens... For one thing, we shared the mountain this year with the Duke Writer’s Workshop. What could be more fun than 23 songwriters getting together? Well, just add 30 writers of fiction and nonfiction to that, light us up, and watch us go! Every day we met at 9 am for our writing prompt, then set off for some quiet space to write. At 11:30, we’d gather back at the Studio(the songwriter’s gathering place) to share the songs or fragments in group. Sharing with SOLATIDO(or “So, la ti da” as some of the participants have come to call it) fellows is a welcome experience. My first attempt at a song from the “shoe” prompt provided by Georgann Eubanks, our fearless facilitator, did not make it into group share because we had so many folks willing to share what they’d written. However, I think that listening to the other songs made me that much more comfortable with our group. In no time at all we were singing along with the obvious chorus to Joe Pfister’s Pete Seeger-like composition, “Who Will Fill My Shoes?” as well as clapping along to the bluesy collaboration between Randa and Diane(who had just met, by the way) about the woman who might wear the flashy dark blue satin pump they had pulled from the pile of prompts. As the lunch bell rang, we were still amazed at how many good songs came from just selecting a shoe from a pile. When the lunch bell rings at Wild Acres, you drop whatever you’re doing and bask in the gentle care of the dining hall staff as you dine “family style” at a table filled with writers to whom you pass the biscuits and little pieces of your own life story. We sat with mystery writers, business writers, poets who were also doctors, teachers, nurses and software documentors. A sample of lunch time banter, “so, have you ever heard of Tift Merrit? Well, she lives right across the street from me and was my babysitter.” After lunch we all headed to a reading given by one of the Duke Writer’s Workshop faculty. This became a “must do” for Raison D’Etre as we received as much inspiration from hearing the works of these talented folks as we did from listening to our songs in circle. After the readings the first full day, one could elect to get some peer coaching or climb to the Pinnacle. Violet Rae and I decided that since we were in the mountains, we owed it to ourselves to climb to the top. So, Georgann led an equally mixed group of Duke/Solatido participants to the Pinnacle where we could look directly upon Mount Mitchell, NC’s highest peak and marvel at the magnificence of the Blue Ridge. As a little rain storm loomed on the horizon, our caravan headed down the mountain so as not to miss the really important scheduled event -- 5 pm Happy Hour! Picture 50+ writers on a porch overlooking the mountains, many of us in rocking chairs, drink in hand...yes! Following dinner, several songwriters performed for the Duke folks in their studio area and then later gathered in the canteen for some late night jamming. We put Kate, Jen and Freddie through most of their set lists while the string band held forth for at least one set. Raison D’Etre played “This Kind of Rain” for the Duke folks right as Carrie Newcomer arrived. I felt breathless all the way through the song...climbing the mountain, happy hour, Carrie Newcomer, but managed to get through without falling over. On our second full day we proceeded through the same delightful schedule: breakfast, lunch and dinner at the dining hall, morning prompt, share, reading, etc. However, Carrie joined us for the prompt share and sat right next to me while I sang for the very first time a song I wrote from our “smells” prompt. Much to my delight, the other songwriters chimed right in on the “sha la la” part. Violet Rae shared her song inspired by the curry smell which for some reason took her back to Saturdays with mom’s chili. Tim acted as her “Mr. Music Stand” while she read her fresh song from a notebook. All this was prelude to the profound influence of Carrie Newcomer as a spiritual presence and teacher. To begin our session with us, she picked up her guitar and sang her song “Geodes.” Now, I’ve heard that song before on the radio and thought, “good voice, good song,” but nothing prepared me for the totality of words plus voice plus spirit.Carrie’s whole workshop was about finding inspiration in the sacred ordinary. As somebody who actually has some geodes thrown in my flower garden because they seem somehow precious to me for what they have inside, I have never heard such a beautiful tribute to the human spirit: “you can’t always tell, but sometimes you just know.” I think Carrie Newcomer gave me the perfect metaphor for how I feel about each and every person I met at Wild Acres. They look ordinary on the outside, but have that crystalline beauty inside distilled from whatever makes them write and sing. Anyway, Violet Rae, Vickie and I listened to everyone’s music on the way home, hoping not to lose that Wild Acres glow for a long, long time. If you’d like to check out a few pictures from our journey, I posted a few, courtesy of Donna Campbell, on our photo journal page: You can also read about SOLATIDO at the retreat site: Raise on, dear friends And don’t defer those shining glimpses into the heart... “And inside there shines a secret bright as promise.”--Carrie, again

"September, I remember"

Here's the last installment of "April, Come She Will" lyrics: "The autumn wind blows chilly and cold--September, I remember A love once new has now grown old."--Simon and Garfunkel That concludes my six-month journey through quoting “April, Come She Will” lyrics--a journey that coincides with Raison D’Etre’s 6-month recording project with Group Effort sound Studios. We have three more sessions scheduled in the studio this month and hope to have a finished CD by fall. Stay tuned for news about our release events. Meanwhile, we’re doing plenty of live music and always have our live double DVD with us,”Live@Java5” for anyone who wants to experience our Mobile, Alabama concert without leaving the comfort of your home. You can buy the DVD from us at any concert, or mail order it by sending a $15 check to: Raison D’Etre Roberta Schultz 622 West Johns Hill Rd. Wilder, KY 41076 Make all checks payable to Raison D’Etre, and we’ll send a two hour concert your way. Just for fun, there’s a segment from our live DVD on Kazoobie Kazoos’ blogspot. They featured us last month: Check our CALENDAR page for September live performances. Hope to see you somewhere down the road. Raise on, dear friends... And don't defer those google searches. Roberta of the Raison

"August, die she must."

--Simon and Garfunkel It’s high summer in Kentucky. The bugs are in a frenzy, the gardens are in a tangle, and the kids are getting ready to go back to school. Everybody knows that the lazy,hazy,crazy days are winding down to Labor Day fireworks and getting back to business. But if you’re itching to play a bit more before the seasons change, we hope you’ll come on down to Cincinnati’s Piatt Park on your lunch break for Cincinnati Park Board/LPK Acoustic Lunch. Raison D’Etre will be there providing the tunes(weather permitting) from 11:45am-1:45pm on August 26. You bring the sandwich! We’ve had a record summer playing Sister Acts and Swing Canaries shows for some of the best audiences in the world. And Roberta has been plenty busy presenting her solo program, “The Story Behind the Song” as well as performing with the song writers of the Ceilidh Group featured on “Isn’t it a Wonder.” If you’re looking for a great gift for a new mother or your favorite niece, nephew, grandchild,child or child-at-heart, proceeds from this delightful CD go to several children’s programs in Greater Cincinnati. Check out the website at: If you’re thinking of doing some early online holiday shopping, Raison D’Etre will send you a free “Isn’t it a Wonder” CD for every Raison D’Etre CD you buy at CDBaby in September and October. Just go to: Offer ends October 31, so you have plenty of time to shop! FREE STUFF! Who can resist that? And it’s for a very good cause. You will be so happy with your braver self when you hear “Isn’t it a Wonder”-- because it is. Even with the busy summer we’ve had, Raison D’Etre has logged several studio sessions on our upcoming recording tentatively entitled, “Braver Self.” We have seven new originals recorded already and are working on at least two more for the project. There will probably be at least one swing tune from our Swing Canaries set and maybe even a cowgirl song. We’ve had a lot of fun doing this one at Group Effort. In fact, one of the tracks is already getting some airplay on Women of Substance Radio. Check them out at: You’ll be listening for “Another Train” by Vickie and “Broken Radio” by Roberta. But the rest of what they play is awesome, so you can’t lose. Raise on, dear friends! And don’t defer those dreams... Next month marks the end of the Simon and Garfunkel lyric adventure.

"July, she will fly...

And give no warning to her flight.”--Simon and Garfunkel July is flying by for sure! I keep saying things like, “we just had this really great house concert featuring Anita Camarella and Davide Facchini” or “the wine festival was just last week,” only to realize that weeks have passed since then. So, before July completely flies, I just wanted to tell you about a couple of public shows for Raison D’Etre. On July 24th we are returning to the unique concert experience that is Live@ the Lodge in Clifton Reserve, OH. Concerts take place in a Greene County Park lodge next to a stream, but weather is usually not a problem since the concerts are inside the comfy lodge. Doors open at 7 and music starts at 7:30 pm. Check out the series website at: July 25th takes us back to Cincinnati’s best coffee house venue(according to CityBeat, 2008), College Hill Coffee Company and Casual Gourmet. There’s never a cover charge, but the staff encourages filling the performer tip jar which they display quite prominently and elegantly. We always have a good time at this beautiful, friendly establishment. For more on their music line-up(updated to this weekend,) see: We are still recording basic tracks for our upcoming CD, “Braver Self,” at Group Effort Sound Studio and will post a few of the rough mixes up on myspace for you to enjoy soon. For now, you can hear a few tunes from “Hearts Content” and very rough drafts of the newer songs at: Hope your summer is filled with fun and a few cool breezes. Raise on, And don’t defer those midsummer dreams! Roberta of the Raison

"June, she'll change her tune...

In restless walks, she'll prowl the night."--Simon & Garfunkel Still quotin' the song. Remember, you'll have all the lyrics by September. June's tunes are changing plenty for Raison D'Etre. We have a bunch of bookings for our Sister Acts shows(harmony sister groups from the Andrews Sisters to the McGuire Sisters to the Webster Sisters.) And we're doing two more weekends at the Old West Festival in Brown County as The Golden Girls of the West where we do an entire set of cowboy era music. The Festival is a real blast! Check it out at: And if it isn't enough trying to keep up with those two very different sets, we'll be doing our Swing Canaries show for the 1940s Weekend at Cincinnati Museum Center on June 21 at 1 and 3pm. On some days, when I wake up I have to ask myself, "who are we today?" At least we get to be ourselves, Raison D'Etre, with our very own swinging country folk for two very delightful June events: Acoustic Thursdays on Fountain Square, June 12 from noon-1 pm and The 2nd Annual Summer Wine Festival at Lakeside Vineyards in Felicity, OH on June 27 from 5:30-7:30 pm. And, if you feel like a real change in tune, join us for a House Concert in Wilder, KY when we host the fabulous Italian duo, Anita Camarella & Davide Facchini for some 4os era Italian swing. He's a smokin' guitarist who has played with the likes of Tommy Emmanuel and she has the voice of an angel! They're passing through our area between their All Star Guitar appearance at the Ryman in Nashville and their adventure in Kansas and Colorado. If you'd like to sample some of their music, check out their Myspace page: We're taking reservations for the House Concert by e-mail: Have a great month, June bugs! And don't defer those crazy dreams. Roberta, Violet Rae, and Vickie

"May, she will stay...

resting in my arms again."--Simon and Garfunkel Here's the next line of the song. Just wanted to get some news up here pretty fast. Violet Rae and Vickie just received "Honorable Mentions" in the West Coast Songwriters 2008 Competition for their new songs "Legacy" and "Another Train." The website is but they listed the song credits incorrectly. Gotta give the girls their props! We just returned from Door County, Wisconsin which is a beautiful place on both Green Bay and Lake Michigan. We played for a Cross Stitcher's Retreat on Sturgeon Bay. And you would think that would be a sedate bunch of ladies, but you would be wrong. Many of them came to the concert in feather boas to whistle and sing along. After the concert, we drove up the peninsula to join the retreat members at Square Riggers for an authentic Door County fish boil. Randy Turner, the retreat organizer, assured us that we would not want to miss this spectacle of local color. He is never wrong about that, so we went. Out behind the rustic lodge restaurant everyone gathered around a huge metal cauldren that was heated by pine logs stacked vertically. The Square Rigger's owner told us about the fish boil technique and tradition. Whitefish steaks(from the very bay in front of us), potatoes, parsnips, carrots, and onions were rising to a boil in the cauldren as he spoke. Once the "stew" came to a rolling boil, the gentleman threw in a little kerosene and a column of flame three feet wide shot up from the cauldren at least twenty feet into the air. Everyone gasped and applauded as our dinner was also our fireworks display. It seems this pyrotechnic display boils off the excess fish oil and makes the steaks less "fishy" tasting. Back inside the restaurant, the wait staff came around to assist us in removing the fish bones as we dined on the tasty whitefish and veggies served with some great tasting Door County Wine. Another great road gig with fun people. Raise on, And don't defer those roadside attraction dreams! Roberta P.S. The baby redbirds hatched and flew off in 10 days!

"April Come She Will...

When streams are ripe and swept with rain."--Simon and Garfunkel For the next several months, I’m quoting the Simon and Garfunkel song as my monthly quote. By September, you will have the entire song lyrics. But if you need instant gratification, here’s a lovely version of the song by a fantastic South Koren singer on youtube: Raison D’Etre only played two formal gigs in April, which is also National Poetry Month, the cruellest month, and the anniversary of Kurt Vonnegut’s death, depending on which media sources or very old books you regularly consult. But since spring is real evidence of rebirth every year, it’s hard to be completely sad in April even after taxes or without Kurt. Something about the fact that a redbird is sitting on her nest this very minute inside my front porch light helps me take heart. If she can manage to “keep on keeping on” in that precarious position just to bring her babies to the world, who am I to despair? Large, scary beings pass by her nest making her fly to the nearest bush at irregular intervals, and still she sits and waits. Strange shadows leer at her from a window, but she fixes a steady eye on the voyeurs as she holds her all important stance. She’s got serious business to conduct here called LIFE. That, of course, brings me back to Kurt Vonnegut(anyone trying to follow the logic in this, I’m sorry. There are circles inside circles in my head.) Kurt Vonnegut said that the purpose of life is “to help each other through this whatever it is.” So, I’m beginning with the redbird outside my door. I have her back(or her side as it turns out) for the duration of her brooding. If anyone comes to visit the Schultz family, please use the side door for the next few weeks. April took Raison D’Etre to the Richwood Flea Market for two sets on their food court stage. Then we were off to a three-day song writing/arranging retreat at Prairie Pond Woods in Adams County, Ohio where we worked on three songs for our recording session April 20 at Group Effort Sound Studios. We finished out April at Kentucky Haus Artisan Center in Newport. Several folks who are “helping us through this whatever it is” deserve our heart-felt thanks: Mike--thanks for the lunch and the invite to play the Flea! Cindy--thanks for the beautiful creative space that is Prairie Pond Woods! Dan--thanks for your mellow demeanor that makes recording so easy. Bev--thanks for having us at your shop and for keeping me from losing it after the wreck. Bev’s mom is the door woman extraordinaire. Thanks to Audrey for all her help. Tony and Nilsa--thanks for coming out to see us at Rabbit Hash and Kentucky Haus. The video is really good. I hope to post clips from it it on our myspace site and youtube very soon. Don--great to see you in Newport and Covington. Thanks for your continued support. Dottie--what a surprise to see you this month! Hope all is well with the Rizzo Family. Thanks for buying our CD! And special thanks to the gals who met Becky for lunch and stayed for our concert. I have to go check on the redbird because any day now, I expect to see babies... Raise on, dear friends... And don’t defer your dreams of rebirth. I’ll just bet that somebody has your back(or side, as the case may be.) Roberta of the Raison

Expecting to Fly

“There you stood on the edge of your feather...”Neil Young That’s what the first recording session always feels like for me--diving off a cliff into nowhere with a feather(if you’re lucky, you have at least one fragile hope to buoy you along on this journey that truly is a leap of faith.) How will it sound? Will anybody like it? Will I like it? A wise engineer/accordion player/producer once said to me, “Well, a recording is just another kind of performance. You do it, and then it’s over.” Except for how often you can go back to listen and say, “Why did I do it that way? Why is my voice shaking? Why couldn’t I clear my throat before the first note?” So, ignoring that voice in our heads and heeding the advice of the accordion player, Raison D’Etre is venturing forth to produce our 6th recording. It is going to be a CD even though the “industry” is inching away from that format. We’re hoping that some of you will like it, but we’d probably do it anyway because we have to. You know that old saying, “don’t give me people who want to dance, give me people who MUST dance.” When your name is Raison D’Etre, you have to go off that cliff once in a while. Neil’s song goes on to say, “as I laughed, I wondered whether I could wave goodbye..” Well, just until next time. We’ll keep you posted on our progress. So far, we have two basic tracks down and another session scheduled for right after our April retreat. Hope to have more to share with you then. Raise on! And don’t defer those feathered hopes. Some of them will probably fly. Roberta, Violet Rae, and Vickie

So, where did you get that name?

“What if I can’t find my raison d'être, and nobody cares?”--Joe Newman, Simon Kenton grad At least once a month someone asks us where we came up with our name(which we share with projects by the dark ambient Swedish artist also known as Peter Andersson and with a beer by Dogfish Head.) Well, our name came from the source of many a literary and musical inspiration: the Simon Kenton High School teachers’ lounge. I, Roberta, taught high school English, Humanities, Reading and Journalism at SK from 1985-1996, a storied time for Simon Kenton when the Men’s Faculty Association was still the source of many a folk tale, song, and legend, the Bleacher Teachers flanked the home bench at all basketball and football games and the great Joe Stark walked the earth. My tenure at SK included at least one trip to the basketball state tournament, several road trips to Memphis with other Bleacher Teachers, and one very embarrassing(but fun) victory lap around Boyd County’s stadium when the heretofore hapless SK football team made it to the second round of the playoffs. Luckily, the students were all in a heap in the middle of the field and did not see three of their Bleacher Teachers running around the track, screaming, with tiny white footballs held aloft. The teachers’ lounge at SK had a peeling painting of "Custer’s Last Stand" hung in the only specially designated faculty restroom extant at that time. Therefore, everyone eventually passed through the lounge for one purpose or other during the day. Besides the restroom, there was a microwave, the coffee, a little half-refrigerator, one table, and several chairs lining the walls of the narrow room. And yes, two more attractions for the lounge: it was the only other room air-conditioned in the building besides the principal’s office, and it was a smoking lounge. Each period, a specific set of teachers wandered in to eat lunch, smoke, use the restroom, or just take a break from the whirling cyclone that is adolescence. Our principal hated the lounge, calling any of us who went there “lounge lizards.” I guess he imagined we were following the Lakota and Cheyenne examples posted in the restroom by planning some kind of coups. Actually, we were saving our lives by finding like-minded beings who understand the isolation of an adult in a classroom of teenagers. It is from the SK lounge that I learned my daily mantra from Zen Master, Ron Wells: "help me, Jesus!" So, one day while I was listening to Mike and Dwight sing a song about the ticket crisis at the historic Simon Kenton State Basketball Tournament(the one they won...think Hoosiers,) one of our new, younger teachers wandered in to use the restroom. While she waited, she sat down next to me to tell me how her 4th Period class was handling her lessons on etiquette for the upcoming prom. This ever-industrious, positive-thinking young woman felt that the cultural chasm of eating at a large hotel restaurant was going to be a little wide for some of her charges to cross. So, she had decided to have the students submit their questions about proper etiquette. She was holding one of those questions in her shaking hand because she had never expected anything like it. Joe Newman, a student with waist-length hair and a ready smile, always wanted his teachers to think he was the dimmest bulb in the pack. I know this because his sister was one of the editors of my student newspaper, THE FRONTIER TIMES. Joe figured that if he played dim no one could expect much from him, and he could just breeze through high school unencumbered. I guess he was tired of holding back that day because on the slip of paper was written the philosophical inspiration for our name: “What if I can’t find my raison d'être, and nobody cares?” Violet Rae, Vickie and I were headed for our first radio appearance that weekend and we still didn’t have a name. Performing under the name "The Blue Kentucky Girls" which our band director, Dan Daniels, kept announcing as "The Kentucky Blue Gills," we knew we needed something different. And while it’s not exactly user-friendly, the name has double meaning for us. We think that music is a wonderful reason for being, and my memories of Simon Kenton High School just continue to make me smile. So, now you know. Roberta

Works of Heart

“I’ve got the heart to see it through I’ve got the heart for loving you.”--Violet Rae Downey Well, the “Hello, Kitty” calendar on my wall tells us that it’s the month of the heart motif, as in the Valentine-type heart. And Raison D’Etre is experiencing a little heart’s content over the way so many of you welcomed us into your hearts during the the cold, cold month of January 2008. Here are just a few of our heartwarming experiences this month: January 5th we returned to College Hill Coffee Company where we were able to perform our newest songs(still with music stands, I hate to say, but we’re getting there.) It was great to see Bob & Kat, Harold & his cousin from Funke’s Greenhouses, Nancy and April, Rita, the local gang--including Anne, and of course Erin, her mom and friends. It was a good evening all around although we didn’t get to talk to everyone as long as we’d like. College Hill Coffee Company just celebrated their 2nd year of music in January with Chris Collier and Tracy Walker doing the anniversary concerts. If you’d like to check out this wonderful gathering place in College Hill, here is a link to their web site: The Raison D’Etre family gals all celebrated Violet Rae’s January birthday at Newport on the Levee this year with lunch at Mitchell’s Fish Market, browsing and buying at Barnes and Noble and then a quick shopping trip to the GW Boutique in Bellevue where Roberta buys most of her performance clothes. Hey, Feist has nothing on Roberta (when it comes to thrift shopping.) Now if Roberta only had that Grammy outfit shopping dilemma that Feist has, well... From January 14-25 Roberta was artist in residence at Our Lady of the Mountains School in Paintsville, KY. Preschool through 8th grade studied elements of music through listening, performing and song writing. All this was possible through a Teacher Incentive Program grant from the Kentucky Arts Council written by parents and teachers at the school. While at OLM, Roberta offered an after school professional development on integrating music into the curriculum by using KET’s Arts Toolkit for Music. She also addressed the January PTO Meeting about how parents can encourage interest in the arts at home. Students prepared a concert in the third floor ballroom for their parents and members of the Paintsville community which included percussion, singing, songs written by Roberta and the students, and a rousing group sing of “Amazing Grace.” A good time was had by all. Thanks so much to all the teachers and students at OLM for making Roberta feel so much a part of your family. And extra thanks to the Perrins(Clare, Frank, and Zack) for taking Roberta into your home for the residency. Our Lady of the Mountains is a wonderful school in Paintsville, KY housed in the Mayo Mansion, a historic landmark. See what they are up to at: So many mansions, so little time! Our last performance in January took us to the fabulous Troy-Hayner Cultural Center in Troy, OH. As program coordinator, Kim Clifton, gave us our orientation tour, she called the mansion “the house that whiskey built,” since the Hayners were distributors in the area. They even have a lovely exhibit of the Hayner products! We were amazed at the great acoustics in the third floor ballroom where our concert took place to a packed house. This community truly supports this unique cultural center. Our encore involved a group sing of “Amazing Grace” at this concert, too, but this time there were four distinct vocal parts in the audience. For more about Troy-Hayner’s upcoming schedule: In February we are playing at several venues near and dear to our hearts: Fine Arts Fund Sampler Weekend is February 9&10, so we’ll be at Mary Ann Mongan Library on Covington as the Swing Canaries on Saturday and at Grailville in Loveland(yeah, more heart metaphor), we’ll be ourselves on Sunday. See our calendar page for details. February 15th it’s back to Playhouse in the Park, February 16, we’ll leave our hearts in Mariemont at the Dilly Deli...and on February 24 we are pleased as punch to return to the loving community of Rabbit Hash, KY for Concerts by the Stove in the Rabbit Hash General Store. Raise on, dear Valentines, and don’t defer those brave heart dreams! Roberta, Violet and Vickie

Songs,Shows & DVDs

“I search for seed to feed my need for singing.”--The Redbird Song January 2008 Update from Raison D’Etre 1. A look back in photos 2. Looking forward with songs, new recording project, new programs and DVD 3. Roberta solo According to Miss Manners, it’s OK to wish people a happy New Year until the holiday decorations start to be annoying. It occurs to me that figuring out exactly when “annoying” happens for everybody could be very tricky. For example, I’m sure that my old neighbors in Ft. Thomas have already tossed out their tree as they have done every season since they were married over 20 years ago. So, would they be annoyed if I gave them an additional holiday greeting? However, some really fun people in a tiny cottage just around the bend from the possibly annoyed neighbors will most likely leave their house festooned with lights until February. We actually had an unofficial contest in my old neighborhood to see who had the guts to leave their lights on the longest. I can remember one especially snowy February when two houses were lit up nightly--ours and theirs. So, knowing that about me, “Happy New Year” from someone you would probably classify as “the other weird neighbor.” Violet Rae and Vickie are ever tasteful in their attire and decor, so don’t blame them. Looking Back at 2007 I’m not doing a year-end list like I did last year, but instead, I posted some photos on our website of key performances this year where Vickie remembered to bring the camera or for which I had a poster. It was a very enjoyable inventory exercise. I’ve noticed a few things about Raison D’Etre’s year. We’ve started having a lot more fun wherever we travel to sing our three-part harmony shows. That’s probably because we’ve met so many good people who share the simple joy of living. Thank you for that! So, if you want to see a quick review of our 2007 season, it’s posted in photos at Looking Forward to 2008 New Songs-- Since I received a Kentucky Foundation for Women grant last year for songwriting, the whole trio went into a songwriting frenzy. We attended several retreats in Kentucky and Tennessee where we focused on our individual writing first, then arranging for trio second. This concentrated attention to our songs brought us some awards at the Mountain Valley Arts Council’s Songwriting Festival in Guntersville, AL. So, our next move for 2008 will be recording our 6th project. New Acts-- Thoughout 2007, we began playing our Swing Canaries program for Creative Aging member retirement communities in Cincinnati. We’ve been doing that program since the 50th Anniversary of D-Day, so we pretty much thought its audience was dwindling. What we’ve found is a whole new intergenerational interest in the Swing Era singers, especially groups like the Andrews Sisters. So, we’re constantly developing a new program called “Sister Acts.” Once people realize that it’s not about the Whoopi Goldberg movie, they are thrilled to hear the blends of sibling singers like the McGuire, Pointer, and Clooney Sisters performed with commentary by the Webster Sisters plus Vickie. New DVD-- OK, so we don’t have an old DVD. But we do have a NEW one! Because a very gracious film maker produces concerts for his company twice a year, Raison D’Etre was invited to perform at Java 5, a unique video production/performance venue in Mobile, Alabama. Past performers at this venue include The Kingston Trio, The Limelighters, and Roy Bookbinder. Mudbrick Media produced a DVD of that concert. So, if you don’t feel like getting out much this winter, but really want to experience our current concert set in the comfort of your own home, just drop us an e-mail, and we’ll send you our two- set concert (with several new songs included) for only $15.00(postage included.) You can get the DVD FREE as a bonus by buying any of our CDs during the month of January at CD Baby or by reviewing one of our CDs on CD Baby during January 2008. I monitor the site daily, so be sure to include your mailing address when you purchase a CD online, and I will send you the DVD during February. Offer ends January 31st at midnight. Roberta’s Residency-- I will be a teaching artist in residence at Our Lady of the Mountains School in Paintsville, KY from January 14-25. I’m very excited to be working with the whole school on “Harmonies Through the Ages,” which will be a survey of Western vocal music periods, music elements particular to each period and application of those elements to songwriting. We’re starting out with Gregorian Chant, so I know it’s gonna be fun. Raise on, dear friends, And don’t defer those resolute dreams! Roberta Official Scribe for Raison D’Etre

Over the River and Through the Woods, and Way Down I-65...

Over the River... November has been a beautiful month for meeting new folks and for playing really interesting venues. We started off the month at College Hill Coffee Co. and Gourmet which is a feast for the eyes as well as the tummy. Tina Stoeberl has created an inviting and warm environment for coffee lovers, laptop users, and those who just like to gather as a community. The entire shop seems to shimmer with brilliant earth tones. And we were delighted to run into Nancy, Diana, Ann--who guided us to College Hill Coffee in the first place-, Bob and “Cat.” If you’d like to check out all that the shop offers, here’s a link to their new website: We’re returning December 15th for “Java, Jive, and Joy” when we’ll add a few holiday tunes to the mix. Through the woods... The next day, we ventured out to Rabbit Hash, KY for the Center of the Universe Tour, what loving organizers titled the two-day Benefit for Richard Young event at Rabbit Hash. 25 music groups donated their time, Mayor, Junior the Dog, had a kissing booth, and hundreds of volunteers worked to raise over $40,000 for stone carver Richard Young’s medical treatments. To read all about the ongoing efforts-- and to do some Christmas shopping that will actually help someone--go to the Rabbit Hash General Store’s website and prepared to be amazed at human goodness in action. Some people still really get that “love thy neighbor” thing. Order a “Center of the Universe Tour” tee-shirt for someone you love. Thanks to Jan Perry, Rick Bird, Sandy Megowen, Pat Crowley, and Nancy James for your part in getting the word out about this event. And big thanks to Donnie Clare for the reflection afterwards. It was really great catching up with Donnie after our set behind the stove at the Rabbit Hash General Store. We’re going back for a few sets in February. But the bigger thanks goes to people like Bobbi Kayser, David Rhodes Brown, and all their friends around Rabbit Hash who put this work of heart together. Back over the river... Still amazed at the wealth of community present in Rabbit Hash, we took our rejuvenated selves back to Ohio that evening for a set at the Leo Coffee House. There we were entertained by the riches of open mic talent and the wizardry and knowledge of Bob Lotz on harmonica. As always, the Leo volunteers provided a comfortable and inviting stage for the folk music lovers of our area. Papa Joe emceed while Al and Jim insured quality sound. And while we were a little punchie from the day’s activities, we had a very good time performing for this receptive audience. To find out who’s next at the Leo, go to Still over the river, but definitely through some woods... On November 5th, Roberta traveled with Omope Carter Daboiku to Kenyon College for a performance of “Mountain Women Rising.” Once we arrived in Gambier, OH, we met up with Meredith Dean and Edna Gulley of the Appalachian Women’s Alliance for a day-long rehearsal. Our performance that evening was for the Crozier Center, a women’s studies organization with a history of presenting programs about women’s issues and social justice. Our student hosts were delightful and had many good questions for us after the performance. They also came by the Kenyon Inn afterwards to present us with tee-shirts celebrating “Love Your Body Day.” I feel better about the future of women everywhere just knowing that groups like the Crozier Center are actively addressing the issues of positive self-image and equality. For more information about “Mountain Women Rising” performances, check the Appalachian Women’s Alliance website: Over the river and up the hill... The First Friday Niters are an active group of seniors who meet monthly for dinner and a program at the Hyde Park Methodist Church. While their programs range from historical lectures to madrigal performances, they always emphasize life-long learning and fellowship. We were pleased to be invited as one of their musical programs on November 9. Dr. Phillip Crabtree, Professor Emeritus of the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, extended an invitation for us to perform our Swing Canaries set. We even ran into some childhood friends of our mother, Louise. And then, way down I-65... In perhaps one of the most interesting bookings ever in our history, Raison D’Etre traveled to Mobile, Alabama on November 16 to play at Java 5, a unique venue designed for video production. Java 5 is the brainchild of Denny Wilkins, CEO of Mudbrick Media, a company that produces science films and educational stock footage. Denny invited us to play one of their twice-a-year concerts for his employees and their families. But these aren’t just any old “company dinner/entertainment” functions. Java 5 is a state-of the-art performance and video venue. And each concert serves as a learning experience for the staff members as they take turns producing, recording, and engineering the concerts. Before us, Java 5 produced concerts and made videos of The Kingston Trio, The Limelighters, Roy Bookbinder, and several other folk and instrumental legends. For each concert, the staff created posters for the venue and videos of the performances. We were amazed to enter the lobby of Java 5 for our sound check and to see beautifully done posters for every concert--including ours--framed on the lobby walls. Denny Wilkins also crafted a six-string banjo accompaniment to our version of “Java Jive,” and joined us on stage during our first set. We met most of his friendly family, several of the staff and their families, and had an absolutely wonderful evening. All Violet and Vickie kept saying back at the hotel was, “wow, that was a blessing!” And then, far, far into the woods... Without even a chance to catch a breath, much less a full night's sleep, Roberta headed through the woods to the Kentucky Arts Council's Arts in Education Artist Gathering at "Faubush." There she met up with friends on the roster, presented her Chants and Ballads lesson to fellow artists, and took part in the "Goodbye to John Benjamin" festivities. John is really retiring this April, so this was his last Faubush for a while. It was a really emotional couple of days, but somehow, I know he won't be able to stay away. Thanks for everything, John. Your artists love you! And, so it was a month of blessings... Raise on, dear friends! And don’t defer those dreams... Because always we are truly blessed And sometimes, thankfully, we notice it.

October Country

(Thanks to Ray Bradbury for giving my favorite time of year a name!) Raison D’Etre had a very eventful September, and October is promising to be just as interesting. At last writing I told you about our upcoming jaunt back to MOVA, the songwriting festival and competition of the Mountain Valley Arts Council in Guntersville, AL. Well, our big news is that Violet Rae took FIRST PLACE in her category(Children’s/Holiday/Humor) with her song, “Legacy.” We pretty much knew she did OK when all of the judges in the final round burst into simultaneous laughter. My song(Roberta), “This Kind of Rain,” made it to the finals and came in third in Folk/Bluegrass behind some pretty awesome songs, so I’m happy. All three of us had songs in the semi-finals, so we really feel good about that. We posted several photos(by Vickie, mostly) on the PHOTOS page if you’d like to have a look. Judges and results at: We also became our “braver selves” by applying to showcase at Midpoint Music Festival in Cincinnati. Honestly, we were a little timid about that whole thing since bands(yes, we mean BANDS) from all over the world came to Cincy to showcase in 17 different venues. Most of them were much younger than our folk trio(another intimidating factor in our society, sadly,) but somehow, out of 900 applicants we made the 300 cut. We had a lovely time playing at Arnold’s for the appreciative crowd. And we have some really cool t-shirts, too. Big thanks to the Midpoint folks for being so inclusive. And thanks to Kathy for the wonderful quote! In October, so far we’ve been to Tennessee for the Ironweed Gathering of the Appalachian Women’s Alliance, to Newport, KY for a Swing Canaries show at the Salvation Army, To SEM Haven in Milford for our ever-evolving Sister Act presentation, and to Barnes and Noble on the Levee for a fundraiser for Campbell County Family Literacy. Dixie Hoffman dropped by to make some valuable puchases toward the fundraiser and to lend some moral support to the Raisons. We love ya, Dixie! Of course, Mom, Bob and Rosanne did not pass up the opportunity to shop for literacy. All you have to say around my family is “bookstore” or “GW Boutique” and we are so there. Coming up in October... We’re going to hang out at the Richwood Flea Market to play at the food court, attend OAPN with Rita Becker to check out the workshops, showcases and work the exhibit hall, do our Sister Act at McAuley Convent and Lincoln Senior Center(Violet keeps telling me to leave the word “Senior” out of that, but hey, I’m nothing if not honest.) and then we’re finishing up the month by playing our favorite dining gig, Dilly Deli, and by performing “Harmonies through the Ages” for some educators at Covington’s Drees Pavilion. Tis the season to make Halloween cookies, so maybe Leona can make it over to Wilder, I have black plates, now, Lee...ya gotta come! And Bryce Warren beat me in the "who sent the first Halloween card race" again. Thanks, Bryce. In November, we are excited to be playing for the Rabbit Hash Fundraiser for Richard Young. See the website for details: And we’re going to Mobile, Alabama for a concert at Mudbrick Media...more about that next month... Raise on, dear goblins, And don’t defer those October Country dreams... Roberta

The Kind of September

"See you in September... See you when the summer’s through." Wow, August was some hot month...and I don’t mean good lookin’. Even though the temps soared into the 100s and we didn’t see much rain in this part of the world, Raison D’Etre still managed to play a few outdoor venues including one all-day women’s music festival. On August 5th we played our “Sister Acts” program for Green Township Senior Center. This performance featured songs from the McGuire Sisters, Andrews Sisters, Dinning Sisters and the Webster Sisters(that would be Raison D’Etre originals.) Happily, many of the luncheon guests told us that they enjoyed our songs as much as the other sister tunes. We are working to include Kentucky’s own Clooney Sisters, the Boswell Sisters and Pointer Sisters in this hour-long program. While working up our harmony sisters repertoire, we have discovered many acts around the world--some on major labels like the Puppini Sisters--who love the music of the 30s and 40s and work up arrangements to keep it alive. The Puppini Sisters apply their 40s arrangements to all of their covers including “I Will Survive,” the disco anthem. The result is fresh and sassy. And we like that! On August 6, we took part in Rivertown Music Club’s “Summer Songwriter Series” at the Goose Girl Fountain in Covington, KY. We were so looking forward to playing by the fountain, but the temperatures were high and thunderstorms were predicted(but never came,) so for safety’s sake we played indoors at the Cock and Bull Pub. Thanks to Kelly Thomas, Heather of Tupelo Honey, and Kathy for supporting us and the other musicians for the evening. Lots going on around the tri-state musically thanks to Kelly. When the mercury rose to 103, Fountain Square decided to cancel our August 9th appearance for Acoustic Thursdays on the Square. While we were really looking forward to sharing the bill with the Roanoke Ramblers, we know that it was just too hot to expect a crowd. Thanks to Pru Hunt for all her work in scheduling these performances. And to Zach Holman for our many tech conferences via e-mail. When a “cold front” brought the temps down into the 90s again, we played at Dilly Deli in Mariemont on August 11 for the al fresco crowd. Always a pleasure to share tunes with this friendly outdoor group of diners. Then the weather broke for one beautiful day on August 18 for Tri-State Womonfest in Mt. Airy Forest. Raison D’Etre shared the Garden Stage with RJ Cowdery(finalist in Mountain Stage’s “New Song” contest,) Robin Stone of Cleveland, and Dayton’s Jayne Sachs. The Patio Stage opened with Kelly Thomas, Sharon Udoh and Jenn Wheatley delivering some beautiful arrangements of Kelly’s tunes for piano and cello which also featured vocal harmonies by Sharon. Then came some spirited rock from Louisville’s Blue Umbrellas, folk/rock from Frozen Feet, bluegrass from Katie Laur, Ma Crow and Friends, country originals from Tracy Rice, bluesy, jazzy folk from Cincinnati’s own Tracy Walker, comedy and excellent songs from Jamie Anderson and Phyllis Free, plus the beautiful harmonies of Shelley Graff and Friends. The final act of the evening was from dance diva, Taborah who got the crowd dancing to her soaring vocals. Raison D’Etre finished out the month by traveling around the tri-state to three of their favorite locations: Owenton, Berea and downtown Cincinnati. Since it was deemed too hot for the patio at Elk Creek Vineyards(wise deeming, we think,) we played inside the tasting room which is beautiful and has excellent acoustics. Some friendly folks from Campbell County stayed around for the music after their tasting and tours. After our sets, we learned that they lived right down the road from me(Roberta, Wilder, KY!) We also want to thank Patti Catton and her sister for coming out to hear us at Elk Creek. At the Kentucky Artisan Center in Berea, KY, the staff made us feel right at home(thanks, Pearl!) and Gwen Heffner gave us the usual photo and video treatment. I’ve posted some of her great shots on the photo page, front page, and the video clip is up on our myspace page. We love the Artisan Center, their great staff(thanks for everything, Victoria,) and the marvelous work of Kentucky Artisans you can view and purchase there. I came home with a new gourd drum from Drumzrguruven. Our last stop in August was the LPK Acoustic Lunch in beautiful Piatt Park, Cincinnati. Johnny Schott keeps this event perking with the help of LPK, the Cincinnati Park Board, WNKU 89.7, and the Business Courier. A lovely group of lunchtime friends dropped in to hear our two sets. We were especially honored that Katie Laur and Bev Bowers came by to support us. Thanks, ladies. Roberta journeyed down to Danville on August 30th to showcase with other artists from the Kentucky Arts in Education Roster in Danville High School’s professional level auditorium. It was great to share the stage with the likes of Mitch Barrett, Yolantha Pace, Susan Mullins, Susan Pope, Kathi Ellis, Suzanne Davis, Alfredo Escobar and Cheryl Pan as they showed Kentucky teachers what they can do to promote the arts in the classroom. We’re heading down the road to Alabama September 14 to perform 4 of our songs in the MOVA Songwriting Festival. Raise on, and let us know what you are up to! Vickie, Violet Rae, and Roberta

Roll out those...

Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer... I can still hear Nat King Cole singing that little ditty over the “green and gold” radio we used to have in the kitchen of our tiny frame “ranch house” home in Grant’s Lick, KY. That song meant the beginning of many treks through Ed Yelton’s field with flashlights to watch what passed for our big community event in Southern Campbell County: nightly softball leagues at Vater’s Ballpark. There was plenty to attract three little girls to that ballpark. Two softball games a night(men and women’s leagues--all our neighbors from 10 miles around), the backroom behind the snackbar with it’s very hip jukebox, teenage dancers, card games, and ever-popular bowling machine, the playground with swing sets and teeter totters, the horseshoe pits where all the dads and grandpas(and an occasional athletic mom and grandma) hung out with their Burger and Wiedemann beers, and the snack bar itself, festooned with gooey fly strips to assure us that no flies were making it into the hotdog rotisserie. It’s hard for me to think of summer without somehow conjuring up George Sexton announcing the games, or Mary Vater raffling off a large can of Husman’s Potato Chips, or the jukebox blaring “You Can’t Do That” by the Beatles while Kathy Owens taught us all how to Watusi. On 4th of July, Vic Vater set off an array of fireworks right in the middle of short centerfield. We knew it wasn’t the biggest display in the world, but we “ooed” and “aahed” at every firing. They say you are pretty much shaped as a person by what your world was like when you were 10 years old. Well, if that’s true, I was shaped by the sights and sounds of Vater’s ballpark in summer. To this day, I can’t watch a ballgame on TV. The crowd noise lulls me to sleep because I require the sights and sounds of a community drawn together for a night of their many pursuits of happiness, whether it be horseshoes, dancing, playing on swings, playing ball, or watching the game. Nothing has ever come close to taking me back to Vater’s until Raison D’Etre sang the National Anthem for the Florence Freedom on July 20th. The Freedom ballpark truly has that small community feel--even though 2000 folks came out to enjoy the double header with Slippery Rock. As I looked around, I saw kids running happily wild over the two outfield playgrounds while parents watched from picnic tables. Fans of the Freedom spoke to each other like old friends, not like disgruntled major league ticket holders who paid way too much for hotdogs and beer to have a good time. The snackbar was transformed for a late evening bluegrass concert, and they had fireworks just because it was Friday. Congratulations to the owners of the Freedom who understand that people still want to get together and have a good time while a ballgame is going on. And that it might not always be about the ballgame, but about the getting together. Huzzah, Freedom!(Apologies to Jake Speed who is ever the baseball historian!) So what have the women of Raison D’Etre been up to this July? Well, we started out by setting up our family craft and music booth at Lakeside Vineyards' first-ever Summer Wine Festival in Felicity, OH. Saw Steve and Cindy Collins there, met some of the local folks(Randy--who lives”right across that field”-- was our guide to who’s who) and enjoyed the wine tastings. Roberta spent a week at Kentucky Arts Council’s Artist Gathering and PD Sessions for Teachers at Faubush, KY. Highlights of her week included playing gourd drum in the multicultural jam band on the porch from 7-midnight on Monday, learning some Tai Chi from Hong Shao’s mom, and staying up late with Susan Mullins just talking on the last night. Just as soon as Roberta returned to Northern KY, Raison D’Etre hit the local road for Sawyer Point and the 80th Celebration of the Recreation Commission. Later that day we sang the National Anthem at the Freedom game in Florence. This past week, we sang and played our Swing Canaries set for the happy hour at Western Hills Retirement Community, played a full concert for Live @ the Lodge in beautiful Clifton Reserve, OH, then played on a stellar bill for Queen City Balladeers’ final night of Edensong. Let’s see: Jake Speed & the Freddies, Rob Fetters, and Changling. Yeah, we like that company! Thanks to all of you who came up and talked to us and wished us well at MOVA. We're going back to Lake Guntersville in September to compete in the Humor and Folk/Bluegrass categories with four of our newest songs. Raise on! And don't defer those lazy,hazy,crazy dreams...

without a song...

“I only know there ain’t no love at all without a song.”--Youmans/Eliscu/Rose Lots of love this month as Raison D’Etre(and Roberta with “Mountain Women Rising”) traveled Kentucky, Ohio, Virginia and Georgia debuting new songs, performing old favorites for several reunion groups, and showcasing the writings of The Appalachian Women’s Journal through performances at the Just Connections Conference at Ferrum College and the United States Social Forum in Atlanta. Lots of songs for bending the roads, mending the hearts and telling the stories. We started out with our annual trek to Summerfair and the Vocal Arts Gazebo where we nervously performed three new original songs in our set to a very accepting audience of arts lovers, venders and friends. Steve Collins--Roberta’s bandmate from Joshua Outlaw days--had the quote of the day: “Yeah, Roberta. You really should know ‘I Will Always Love You’ by now since you’ve been playing it for over thirty years!” Next, Roberta set out for the Blue Ridge Mountains to rehearse a day with Meredith Dean, Edna Gulley, and Rema Keen for a performance of “Mountain Women Rising” at Just Connections Conference, Ferrum College Virginia. The troupe decided to use two of Roberta’s songs in that performance, “Mountain Women Rising”--hmmm, wonder why they chose that one???--and “Be True.” It was an honor for Roberta to appear with this group as they presented the voices of women who write their stories for The Appalachian Women’s Journal. The program weaves stories about sense of place, environmentalism, acceptance, social responsibility and equality with music composed by respected activist women such as Sue Massek, Jean Ritchie, and Holly Near. Quote on the back of the Appalachian Women’s Alliance Tee-shirt: “A voice to be reckoned with!” One of the high points for Roberta was rehearsing on Meredith’s front porch while actually facing some of the most beautiful mountains in the world. From June 14-June 23, Raison D’Etre played seven exciting events. We started out as the Swing Canaries with a luncheon at the Owensville Fairgrounds for Union Township Senior Center and the Sheriff’s Office, then got up bright and early on June 15 to sing for a WWII Paratroopers’ Reunion Breakfast at the Drawbridge Estates. The highlight of this reunion was when the surviving paratroopers related their stories for posterity as their families videotaped them. Saturday of that week took us back to Dilly Deli for a wonderful night playing all three of our sets out on the patio. Lots of rehearsal for those new songs! On June 17th--Father’s Day--Pastor Mike said his farewell to the New Hope Campus of Immanuel Methodist Church. Raison D’Etre sang “How Great Thou Art” for the service and joined in the hymn sing after lunch. We wish Pastor Mike and his family all the best in their new church community of Williamsburg, KY. We took a short breath before piling into the car to head for Willard, OH and their “Concerts in the Park Series.” The drive was serene and beautiful up Route 61 through farmers’ fields. After the well-attended concert--we could see people all over the park, having picnics while a few hundred patrons set up chairs in front of the stage to listen--we went back to our hotel, the Country Hearth, to eat at the Box Car Cafe. As we enjoyed all the railroad photos on the wall and savored short order grill food, we finally realized that a steady stream of CSX employees were coming in for the night to rest. Quote of the day by Violet Rae: “It’s raining men! Hallelujah!” June 21st took us back to the Drawbridge Estates for a PT Boat Reunion Banquet in Stuart Hall. This bunch of distinguished sailors and their families were ready to sing and clap along with our 40s songs and stayed long after the banquet to talk to each other and us. On Saturday the 23rd, we played three sets at the fabulous Elk Creek Vineyards in Owenton, KY. The winery itself is gorgeous and would make an excellent day trip for anyone in the Greater Cincinnati area who wants to enjoy wine, music, good food and beautiful scenery. We ran into poet, Pauletta Hansel and her husband, Owen as they were leaving to have dinner at another winery down the road. Then we were pleasantly surprised when Steven De Penning and his friend, Mike showed up during our last set. Quote of the day belongs to Roberta: “I think Pauletta is on our karma team since we run into her everywhere.” Just finished out the performance month with Roberta’s trip to Atlanta with Mountain Women Rising. The troupe for Atlanta was Omope Daboiku, Tinu Daboiku on drums, Edna Gulley, Meredith Dean and Roberta(on guitar and native drum.) The United States Social Forum met in Atlanta this year from June 27-July 1 to share ideas and energy for a better U.S. Activist, environmental, and social justice groups from all over the U.S. and the world gathered in the streets of Atlanta and at various venues throughout the city. Mountain Women Rising performed on the Cultural Stage at the Civic Center at 11:00 am and again at Trinity Methodist Church where many of the workshops were held. We met a lovely group of young women from a performance group called “We’ve Got Issues.” These women also do performances of women’s writing, largely about women’s issues. Quote of the day by Chelsea of “We’ve Got Issues.” “I think we need to organize a bus tour of our two groups.” Sorry for the long entry. Once in awhile, I have to write some of this stuff down before I forget. Raise on, dear friends! And don’t defer those dreams. “I have dreamed on this mountain Since first I was my mother’s daughter And you can't just take my dreams away.”--Holly Near

“slippin’ away, what can I say?

won’t you stay inside me, month of May? and hold on to me golden day-- slippin’ away.”--james taylor Hey, I know I used this quote before when I first started this site, but I need it again. May is flying by faster than I can breathe it in. Every spring I sing this fragment from JT over and over again in my head. Something primal about spring coming again...and then leaving so soon. Rebirth...and speaking of BIRTH, let me take this opportunity to get back at Dixie Hoffman for the birthday card about hair color by publicly wishing her... HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DIXIE, YOU “MAY BABY!” Of course, I don’t know the exact day of her birthday, but I definitely know it’s this month because Gary, Dixie and I went to a John Gorka concert in May a few years back, and as I recall, it was pretty close to her birthday. So, Dixie, if you read this, this is me making good on my threat. Yeah, I know how scary I am. Raison D’Etre has been busy with a few projects this month. We traveled down to Frankfort for the Governor’s Derby Breakfast again. This time they put us on a giant stage left over from the gala. It was our honor to follow some lovely children’s ballet company with their hundreds of parents and grandparents in tow. By the time we got to the stage and the children hit the breakfast tent, our audience was a bit smaller, but no less enthusiastic. After our set, we rushed out to the breakfast tent for the cheese grits and country breakfast. Doesn’t take much to make us happy. I(Roberta) went over to Group Effort Sound Studio in early May to add a vocal track to Pru Hunt’s ever-evolving CD project. She had Dan Murphy play me one of the songs she just laid down with the Sweeneys called “The Cadillac Song.” Pretty cool tune. I told her that it will be her hit on the CD. And since Hopscotch House, Raison D’Etre has been diligently trying to get some of our songs from the March retreat to performance level. To that end, we are arranging a few of them and recording them live to submit to MOVA. We even gave a fine young radio talent, Mr. Andy Ellis of WVXU, an interview that aired on Mother’s Day in which we discussed our song project... Then came the Appalachian Festival where we played in our tent for three days while also hawking our CDs, Bruce Ellis’(Vickie’s husband) tongue drums, and Rosanne’s(Violet Rae’s and my sister) hand quilted and crocheted items. The whole weekend became a family affair which made it much more meaningful and easier when it came to taking down the tent. Andy(Vickie’s son) made good on his promise to continue the traditional Mother’s Day Webster-Ellis Jam by stopping by to play impressive guitar riffs with us for a whole set. Andy’s in a duo now with his buddy, Ian. We are so going to embarrass him by showing up at the Olde Fort Pub on June 1! And last, but not least, we just played for Joan Kaup’s Kick-off Celebration at Nicholson’s in downtown Cincinnati. Joan was introduced by fellow Charterites and supporters, Roxanne Qualls and Jim Tarbell after which she gave a succinct speech outlining her vision for Cincinnati. Sure wish we could vote over there. If you can, please listen to what Joan has to say about an inclusive, green, creative and profitable city. “Be part of the solution.” Raise on, dear friends! And don’t defer those dreams. May is moving so fast!

"April is the cruellest month."--T.S. Eliot

Because we see the annual signs of rebirth pounded by hail stones? Because “The Year of Kurt Vonnegut” also includes his exit? Because we put all of our most wintry clothes in the back of the closet just as the furnace goes out? And then the mercury refuses to inch above 45 degrees for several days in a row? Take your pick. But I posted the T.S. Eliot quote because it is National Poetry Month, leaving you to ponder the random cruelty of nature or the random nature of cruelty or the inevitability of taxes all in your own “reader response” time. I once took an entire week off graduate school to hole up in my apartment with every book Kurt Vonnegut had written up until then. I have also had the honor and privilege of infecting many high school students with “Vonnegutitis”--a disease that presents with a contagious belly laugh and results in an insatiable thirst to read everything Mr. Funnygut(as one of my students dubbed him) ever wrote. Reading all the articles about Kurt Vonnegut’s life and watching every news byte I could gobble since April 11 led me to savoring several of his quotes(and those of his relatives.) His son, Mark, who wrote his own book about mental illness and who is now a doctor, once told his father that our purpose here was to help each other through this, whatever it is. I see that more and more as the only “purpose” worth discussing. So, yeah, we have to pay taxes and die, but in the mean time we can “help each other through this, whatever it is.” I had the honor of hearing Vonnegut speak at NKU in the 1980s. Leona and I stood in line to get his autograph on one of our "bookclub" editions of his work. He treated us like owners of "first editions." My copy of JAILBIRD is about to fall apart from all the times I showed students Kurt's distinctive signature containing the asymmetrical asterisk that all readers of BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS understand. Check our photo page for the signature, and use your imagination. If that doesn't work, read BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS. Belly laughs are hard to come by. And how better to celebrate poetry, rebirth, and helping each other through this than the publication of poet, Judy Sizemore's ASYMMETRY, a gorgeous volume about love, loss, and the pure "lucky ducky" nature of a life lived deeply. For information about the book and upcoming signings see Motes Books at Raison D’Etre will emerge from our two-week break to play a few home town venues this April: Campbell County Library, Newport Branch on April 19, The Marquis Ballroom in Wilder, KY on April 26 and Dilly Deli in Mariemont, OH on April 28. We really hope that April decides to be kind on the 28th so that we can enjoy the outdoor ambience of Dilly Deli’s patio. So it goes... Raise on, dear ones. Let’s help each through this, whatever it is. And don’t defer those dreams. Roberta

Women's History Month in Review

Women’s History Month on the Road We’re taking a breath of spring air to look back at some fun times on the road. Raison D’Etre started out March by heading to Louisville’s Expo Center for the 25th Kentucky Crafted: the Market. We did a set at the Kentucky Arts Council Booth following Kyle Meadows who was kind enough to stop for a few of our songs before he headed out with his family to explore the incredible arts, crafts and food. During our set, Jennifer Rose Escobar and her wonderful family dropped by to chat, listen and actually participate in our music as the Escobar girls are excellent dancers and drummers! It’s great to see all that artistic talent continuing in the next generation. After our set, we talked with John Benjamin for a few minutes and then headed out to see some of the art and grab some food. After circling the booths a few rounds and actually purchasing dulcimers, we listened to some of Carla Van Hoose’s set, ran into Bev and Peggie from Kentucky Haus, and then heard Greg Schaber play some blues. Even the wholesale days are fun at the Market! March 4 brought us to Richmond, KY for our concert at Richmond Area Art Council’s “Stained Glass Series.” Director, Anne Deck and crew treated us to the excellent acoustics of their venue and to some RAAC tee-shirts! It’s always a joy to perform for RAAC’s great audiences. March 10-12 took us to Hopscotch House for our song writing retreat. What a fabulous experience to dedicate a whole weekend to the creative process! Raison D’Etre workshopped eleven songs during the weekend that we will refine in our upcoming rehearsals. We’re hoping to break out a few of the new tunes by Dilly Deli on April 28. Thanks again to the Kentucky Foundation for Women for providing such a needed getaway for women in the arts. On March 14 and 22, we were the Swing Canaries for a couple of programs near home: a USO Heritage Tour at the Cincinnati Museum Center and a luncheon honoring the Retired Senior Volunteer Program at Twin Oaks Country Club. Then, off on the road again... Our Central Ohio Mini-Tour(as we dubbed it) took us to Lithopolis Area Fine Arts Association’s great series in the Wagnalls Memorial. I’ve included a few photos on the photo page and also on the home page so you can get an idea of the wonderful legacy the Wagnalls family left to their community. Not only does the Memorial include a 300+ seat auditorium, but it also houses a library and banquet hall--all done in rich woodwork and Tudor style. Thanks to Miriam, Margaret, and Virginia for having us as part of their 33rd season. We spent the night in Lithopolis, then headed down the road to Lancaster for another Swing Canaries set at the Fairfield County Library. Our performance preceded the award ceremony for an art show, so we got yet another chance to take in some wonderful works. Thanks to Linda for being our gracious host and to the library volunteers for packing us some excellent cookies for our trip! We were so sure we could easily find Newark from Lancaster--I mean, it’s only 30 minutes on Route 37, that we could not believe it when we had been traveling for one hour and still didn’t see a sign for 16 or 79. The countryside was lovely, we were enjoying the good weather, when suddenly Vickie noticed a sign that said “To 93.” “To 93! That goes to Hocking Hills,” muttered Vic. “$2.93,” echoed Violet Rae from the backseat, misunderstanding Vic’s remarks, "gas is that high at home, too!” We were so punchy by then--and so far from where we thought we were going--that all we could do was have a laughing fit. We continued laughing until we saw a sign for Malta. So, we went to Newark by way of Zanesville which is a very scenic, but long way to get there. Always happy to arrive in Newark, this time we were ecstatic! We checked into Place off the Square and settled in for a comfy evening which included swimming, wine and cookies. Next night was a special Stagedoor Cabaret at the Midland Theatre for The Ohio County Home Association, a great bunch of people who work with elder care in Ohio. As always, Jeff and his sound crew made it easy to sing while Mike Morris and staff took care of us. The Midland is a model for what communities can do with their revamped movie theaters. The Midland continues to serve as a concert hall for the likes of Keb Mo(who was in town for a concert the next day), Emmylou Harris, and Kathy Mattea as well as classic acts like the Ink Spots, the Lettermen, and Preservation Hall Jazz Band. And the stage of the Midland presents acts like Raison D’Etre, Kathy Wade, and Scott Ainslie in a cabaret setting. Since the dressing room was already set up with a “Keb Mo” sign, Vickie couldn’t resist calling her son, Andy, to report that we were indeed in Keb Mo’s dressing room. We’re back home now for a few weeks of rehearsals and rest. Hope your Women’s History Month was eventful and satisfying. Raise on, and remember to ask for directions.

"If this isn't nice, I don't know what is,"--Kurt Vonnegut's Uncle Alex

I can’t think of a song for March. Perhaps I should search for songs with a “fish” theme since at least part of this month is in the astrological sign of Pisces, my very own birth sign. Instead, I’ve been thumbing through Kurt Vonnegut’s A MAN WITHOUT A COUNTRY again, alternately laughing and typical response to literature. All the while I am reading quotes aloud to Gary who is looking out the window commenting on the wildlife present. Of course, I am required to jump up and look at the lone wild turkey making her way up the hill from the lake and the red squirrel scavenging the picnic table for bits of acorn. Gary is always very excited over red squirrels--a fascination I do not share because I saw them everywhere while growing up in Grant’s Lick. Now, those big fat gray squirrels warrant my attention, since they are my rarity. I never saw anything like them until I moved in to the “city.” Part of the Vonnegut passage worth crying over--or laughing over, depending wholly on your perspective--is the assertion made by his Uncle Alex that people so seldom seem to know when they are happy. As I read the words and noticed what Gary and I were both doing, I had to laugh and response to the truth. How happy it is to just be sitting here sharing Vonnegut ‘s Uncle Alex and red squirrels. If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is. I think I will remember to notice that in the busy month ahead. March is taking Raison D’Etre to Louisville, Richmond, and Prospect in Kentucky then home to the greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area for a couple of luncheon concerts, then back on the road to Lithopolis, Lancaster and Newark in Ohio. Nice to be making music. Nice to be traveling to some new places. Nice to be noticing the squirrels and turkeys. Raise on, fellow travelers, and don’t defer those dreams. Roberta

The Year of Kurt Vonnegut

“Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.” --Kurt Vonnegut Time to update this journal part of the website. Since Raison D’Etre is so involved this month with the Fine Arts Fund Sampler Weekend and various corporate kick-off events, I just felt the need to share Kurt Vonnegut’s take on the arts. I’m leaving out some of the funnier stuff, but you can get the full blast from reading his just released paperback edition of A MAN WITHOUT A COUNTRY. Supposedly Vonnegut declared himself finished with writing after TIMEQUAKE. But those of us who have loved him for years kinda had the feeling he was not yet finished with having opinions. And his hometown, Indianapolis, has declared 2007 “The Year of Kurt Vonnegut,” so of course we're going to hear more from him. Must make him giggle a little, but he’s going along with it handsomely by agreeing to lecture at the festivities sometime in April in the name of "advancing literacy." Vonnegut also has this to say about the arts: “they are a very human way of making life more bearable.” So, this trio of women goes about singing our three-part harmonies and writing our little songs with that in mind. While I don’t think Fine Arts Fund will be latching onto Vonnegut’s words as a “brand” anytime soon, I think I will. So many of my former high school students were lured into reading because of Vonnegut’s signature little drawings that I just have to believe that ole Kurt is on to something. He has certainly made life more bearable for me by “advancing literacy.” So what if a 17-year-old boy is tricked into reading an entire book because it appears to have cartoons? All it takes is one good book slurped down easy to create a maddening thirst for another. So, for February and beyond, Raison D’Etre will continue our quest to make life more bearable through music. Even though--as Vonnegut says, “the arts are not a way to make a living.” He got more than a giggle from me with that line! Raise on, good friends, and don’t defer those works-in-progress. We can all use a little soul growth. Roberta

"One day at a time...

...we can learn to leave the past behind One day at a time, we can look the future in the eye One day at a time, we can learn how to live"--Yusuf Islam Wow! Been listening to AN OTHER CUP by Yusuf(the prophet formerly known as Cat Stevens), and I gotta tell ya, it really takes me back even though that is not what Yusuf would advise. I never really saw his walking down a spiritual path as a real "turnabout." I mean, "Peace Train," "The Road to Find Out," "Moon Shadow," and even songs like "Bitter Blue" were already so much about the nature of suffering and seeking. Anyway, I missed him. People with gifts should keep on sharing them. Even with us stupid Americans who occasionally have their sweet and humble selves put on "terrorist" lists. Right now I think my favorite "Christmas" song is going to be the beautiful "The Beloved" which is so universal in it's message that any of us would feel good singing about the potential that love offers humanity. Here's hoping your holidays are filled with that kind of love. Top Ten List of Why 2006 Did Not Suck(you'll get plenty of the other stories on the news!) 10. Raison D'Etre went back to Guntersville, AL to play their "Concerts at Lakeside" Series. Nice people, excellent tomatoes, sweet ride(we had to rent a PT Cruiser when the Jeep broke down.) 9. compiled their first Sampler CD for Performing Arts Exchange in Baltimore and "Be True" was chosen for the disc. 8. SOLATIDO Song Writer's Retreat at Wild Acres(New Switzerland, NC) gave Roberta lots of time to do some song writing and editing. Pierce Pettis led a workshop and gave an awesome evening performance where he "channeled" Bob Dylan for his final number. This is an excellent retreat because Georgann Eubanks and Donna Campbell of Minnow Media work to keep it balanced and personal. Roberta wants the whole trio to go next year! 7. We were glad to be able to offer our services to raise a little money for Judy Sizemore's treatment and for Cincinnati Arts Association. Normandi Ellis, Jennifer Rose, Alfredo Escobar, and Melissa English rock for all they do to help their communities. 6. The first-ever "You-Me Unity" Folklife Festival in London, KY was truly awesome. We were honored to be invited. 5. And wasn't it a treat to host the Coffee Cup Concert Series for a 6th season, mingling with the likes of Roger Drawdy, Zoe Speaks, The James Family Band, Jake Speed & the Freddies, Kentucky Reign and the Sweeneys(who guest-hosted for us on our night?) And doing spots about the series on Insight Channel 6 with Nancy James, Sandy Megowen, and Patrick Crowley was a blast. 4. Silas House, Silas House, Doolittles, Silas House! 3. The Lakeside Tour! How fun was it to tell everyone that Raison D'Etre had a tour organized by the word "Lakeside"! Lakeside Association's Concert Series at Hoover Auditorium on the shores of Lake Erie was the first leg of the tour. Then "Concerts at Lakeside" in Alabama. And finally, we wound up close to home at Lakeside Presbyterian for our "Music with a Cause" concert. 2. Kentucky Foundation for Women awarded Roberta an Artist Enrichment Grant for songwriting! She will use the money to return to SOLATIDO and to write songs about how girls and women face aging. Raison D'Etre has also been awarded a weekend at Hopscotch House--a service of KFW--to work on their collective songwriting and arranging! For years we have been promising ourselves a weekend away to really "woodshed" the songs. And now, thanks to KFW, that will happen in March 2007. 1. And the number one reason that 2006 did not suck is that so many of you told us that our music connects with you in some way. In a year containing several big disappointments, you cannot imagine how much your comments kept us going. Happy New Year, Beloveds! Violet Rae, Vickie and Roberta

"Round my doors the leaves are fallin'--a cold wild wind will come."--Johnny Cash

Raison D’Etre had an exciting harvest of experiences last month, and as we head toward the middle of November, the richness of life continues. I’m not talking here about finances, but about the real wealth offered by people and places. On October 25, Vickie and I decided to attend Silas House’s book signing at Northern Kentucky University. We are both big fans of CLAY’S QUILT and A PARCHMENT OF LEAVES, the first two novels by one of Kentucky’s major literary talents. Now, it is a little known fact that Silas attended our performance at the Governor’s Mansion in 2001 and actually wrote to me to buy BETTER MEDICINE, our 1999 recording of various song styles performed by Raison D’Etre during the ‘90s. Silas once told me that while writing a pivotal scene in A PARCHMENT OF LEAVES, he was actually listening to Raison D’Etre’s version of “Simple Gifts.” Hey, I’ve got to tell you, for a literature geek like myself, he just couldn’t have said a nicer thing. Suffice it to say, we are major Silas House fans-- along with everybody else who loves his writing and then finds out what a great guy he is, too. But little did we know... Back at the reading and book-signing at NKU, we discovered even more about Silas. In the “small world of Appalachian connections,” Leva--Vickie’s long-time friend and Raison D’Etre supporter--realized that she had lived next door to Silas’ mom for bit. We held up the signing line for a good ten minutes as “old home week” met “photo op.” Silas greeted Leva like family with hugs and poses for Leva’s and his camera. And then he introduced us all to Jason Howard, the other member of his duo, The Doolittles. I had heard that Silas had a duo and had even listened to a few songs on MySpace. Since I know how important music is to his stories, that didn’t seem at all strange. But imagine our surprise and delight when Silas presented Leva and Raison D’Etre with a copy of their CD, PINE TO PINE! While Jason and Silas both warned us that it was “just a field recording,” the duo really has a balanced chemistry of visceral vocals and spare, yet rich autoharp and acoustic guitar accompaniment. The boys can sing! They are planning a studio recording in 2007. If you want to take a listen now, go to So, we figured the month couldn’t get better from there...but it did! We played Midland Theatre’s Stage Door Cabaret Series in Newark, OH on October 26. This is Midland’s intimate series where the audience of 120 patrons sits on the stage of the glorious Midland for a nightclub-like experience. We were very pleased to see that they put us on their season flyers right along with Emmylou(my all-time favorite for whom my band once nicknamed me “Bertielou”) and even put our name on the dressing room door. Did I say I was a geek? In addition to all the warmth from the staff and audience, Violet Rae made her usual reference to Grant’s Lick, KY while introducing “Queen Anne’s Lace,” and a guy from the audience said he knew where that was. During the intermission we found out that he was none other than the infamous George Carter, member of the Men’s Faculty Association of Simon Kenton High School where I taught for 11 years! I tell you, we just keep having family on the road! Thanks to Mike Morris and the Midland folks for making us feel at home. Then we headed for London, Kentucky for the first-ever "You-Me-Unity" Folklife Festival organized by the London community along with Kentucky artists Jennifer Rose and Judy Sizemore on Bennett Campus. The artisans at the event were unbelievable: there were quilters, chair-makers, gourd carvers, basket makers, and even a man who made turkey calls. As we waited our turn at the stage, we browsed the booths and took part in the dancing. Then about two songs into our set, in walk Silas and Jason! I am not making this up. Turns out that their writer friend, Anne Shelby, was scheduled to play shortly after us, so they had dropped by to sit in with her duo. We spent a lovely afernoon listening to their set which featured Anne and her very talented sister on vocals, autoharp and fiddle with the Doolittles and the Johnson Sisters joining in. I had already met the Johnson Sisters(singers and basket makers extraordinaire) while “chair dancing” to the strains of EKU’s steel drum ensemble. Jennifer Rose topped off the day by singing a spirited tune with her dulcimer. Vickie asked Anne to autograph her book, CAN A DEMOCRAT GET INTO HEAVEN?, everybody hugged again, and we packed up to head home. We hope to see more of our extended road family as we head out for the rest of this month! Check our calendar for details... Raise on, and don’t defer those dreams... Roberta(and Vickie and Violet Rae.) They probably don’t want to be referred to as “geeks,” so I’ll claim authorship this time.

"Let the sun run down behind the hill...

I know how to stand there still Till the moon rise up behind the pine O' Lord, October Road."--James Taylor Roberta loaded up her new Jeep CD player and headed to the mountains of North Carolina for the third SOLATIDO Southern Singer/Songwriter's Retreat featuring a workshop by the marvelous Pierce Pettis. Her traveling soundtrack led her singing along through the stunning Smoky and Blue Ridge Mountains to JT, wild carrot, the Pousette-Dart Band, Dougie MacLean, and Buddy & Julie Miller. A very pleasant seven hour drive culminated in the winding way up to Wild Acres Retreat in New Switzerland, NC where the fun began. Four days of songwriting, song circles, the workshop and evening concert by Pierce(opened by the three-part harmonies of the Singing Sistas from Norris Tennessee) gave Roberta inspiration to finish three songs. In fact, she took up most of last week's rehearsal time for Raison D'Etre sharing the new tunes with the trio. But back here in the Ohio River Valley it's all Tall Stacks all the time... So while the dreaminess and quiet beauty of Wild Acres remain a vivid memory, Roberta is working hard to adjust to the demands of daily life here so very near the "Natti." What does the October road hold for the ladies of Raison D'Etre? Well, last week we played a concert for the Otterbein/Lebanon Community's Volunteer Banquet with guest baritone, Greg Harrington. Greg really brought down the house with his rendition of "Old Man River." We can say we knew him when! October 16-18 is the Ohio Arts Presenters Network Conference in Akron, OH where Roberta will represent Raison D'Etre in the exhibit hall. Come on over and say hi if you're at the conference. We're playing a fund raiser for 1st Presbyterian's efforts to help homeless families. The concert takes place at the Ft. Thomas church from 7-10 pm on October 21. Check our calendar page for the contact info. Several music acts will be contributing a set. Next, we'll return to the Barrington Retirement Community on October 23 for their Autumn Concert. October 26 sends us up the October road to Newark, OH where the fabulous Midland Theatre presents "The Stagedoor Cabaret Series." The audience sits on stage(cabaret-style) with the featured act in order to get new perspective on the Midland Theatre's grandeur. Check our calendar page for the details. Hope you're enjoying the clean, crisp air on the October road. Gary and Roberta concluded that the Harvest Moon reflecting on the lake and the Mad River this weekend was way better than any fireworks display! Raise on, and don't defer those dreams! Roberta, Violet and Vickie

"September Grass

Well, the sun's not so hot in the sky today I can see summertime slipping away."--John I. Sheldon James Taylor covered that beautiful song on his CD, OCTOBER ROAD. And it was a song just tailor-made(pardon the pun) for him in its feel and structure. At this time of the year, Raison D'Etre leaves behind the 90-plus degree summer festivals for the autumn arts fests and concert halls. We're excited about returning to two of the region's excellent fall arts festivals! September 16, we're back on stage at CETA's "Autumn Arts Fest" in Crittenden, KY. In it's fifth season, this festival features some of the best juried art from around the region. On Saturday the fest is open from 10-7. And on Sunday, you can browse the art booths and hear the music from 10-5. We're up on the stage on Saturday from 5-6 pm. Right before the wonderful James Family Band, whose handcrafted instruments are works of art in themselves. Admission is free, but for more info, go to: On Sunday, September 17, we head on down the road to Danville, KY's Constitution Square Festival to take up our semi-yearly tradition of singing for the Pioneer Church service conducted by Rev. Don Drewry. So, if you miss seeing us in our "bonnethead" personas, be at the Constitution Square's historic log cabin church by 10:00 am sharp to join us in singing a few early hymns. At noon, we'll be on stage for our regular set. Sans bonnets, of course. Although, one year Roberta forgot her change of clothes and had to sing "pioneer." We'd also like to thank everyone who bought our CDs during the August CD Baby Contest trying to help us get on the CD Baby sampler. I don't think we made their 30 CD cut-off, but we sure appreciate your loving efforts! Thanks Washington, Hawaii, Indiana, and our good friend, Dixie, here at home. It still knocks us out that people in other states and countries actually have our CDs! (Yes, we know that the above mentioned places are all U.S. states!) Thanks also to those of you in Japan, the UK, and Canada who have purchased our CDs and downloads. You rock! On the homefront, we are happy to celebrate the first day of fall by playing at the Dilly Deli in Mariemont, OH. If the weather permits, we'll be in their courtyard from 7:30-10:30 pm! Good wine, good food. and the music ain't half bad. See some of you there! Raise on, and don't defer those dreams! Roberta, Violet Rae and Vickie

"There's no guarantees how the garden turns out's a mystery, there's no doubt." --Bev Futrell Reel World String Band So, the deer decided to eat our carefully cultivated beefmaster and big boy tomatoes, but left us the Romas. Not as sassy and plump as the hybrid wonders, true, but fulfilling the soul's requirement for home grown just the same. On the other hand, I tossed a few free lettuce seeds from the Cincinnati Garden Show into a planter in the front yard just as an experiment. Who knew that they'd defy the several streaks of 95 degree temperatures to contradict all my accumulated knowledge about lettuce and heat? Raison D'Etre tossed a few songs out to the region to see where they'd bloom. A few of them sprouted in the very warm red clay of Alabama on August 1 when we played for Concerts at Lakeside, the summer series offered to Marshall County by the Mountain Valley Arts Council. Perennial concert-goers gathered in the shadier corners of the amphitheater on Lake Guntersville to enjoy music with snacks provided by the Ladies' Civitan Association. Thanks to Kim, Rudy and Jan for all the hard work putting the concert together. And special thanks to the gentleman who brought us three cabbage-sized tomatoes from his garden. We built our supper around those beauties! Check out Mountain Valley Arts Council's website for their upcoming events: On August 3rd, we headed back home for the last Coffee Cup Concert of the season starring the wonderful James Family Band. It was our pleasure to serve as the musical hosts of this series for another season. Keep up with Behringer-Crawford Museum's events at And on August 6, we had the unique experience of performing at Glier's Goettafest at Newport on the Levee's festival area. Lots of innovative and tasty recipes for preparing our hometown treat plus excellent parodies about goetta. We revamped "Java Jive" for our contribution to the fun. Thanks to Johnny Schott Talent & Events for providing the musical component to Glier's great event. In other news, CD Baby is holding its annual contest to decide who gets on their free compilation sent out with every purchase. You can help us get planted in that hot house by simply purchasing one of our CDs during August at CD Baby. If you go to their $5 Gallery, you can get three CDs for $15! This is an excellent place to stock up on inexpensive gifts. And two of our CDs are available as part of the $5 Gallery sale, "Better Medicine" and "Christmas Belles." You only get the bargain price when you buy 3, though. But, if you're just one CD shy of having a Raison D'Etre "boxed set," now is the time to get that CD and help us be a "best seller" for August. We'll love ya for it. (We'll love ya anyway.) "Queen Anne's Lace" is available at "Better Medicine" is available at "Broadman Babies" is available at "Christmas Belles" is available at And our latest CD, "Hearts Content" is available at We hope your garden is overflowing with glorious yield. As for me, "I search for seed to feed my need for singing."--Roberta Schultz Raise on! Ya never know what those lettuce seeds are gonna do.

"Summer time, and the livin' is easy..."

Violet Rae used to sing that song in our "not-old-enough-to-play-bars-so-we-played-Pedro's Restaurant"phase. Back then we were known as "Jade" and at least half of our repertoire was Neil Young. Summer time signals the start of Music@BCM's Coffee Cup Concert Series where we donate our time as the series hosts. So, you know where to find us for the next six Thursdays. Check out the reasonable subscription prices(you can do the whole season for what lawn tickets cost at most concerts!) We have our own concert this year on July 27. We will also journey up to Lake Erie for the first leg of what we are calling this year's widely-scattered "Lakeside Tour." The first leg of "Lakeside" occurs at the actual lakeside community of Lakeside at the Hoover Auditorium. They have a lovely summer music series for the resort town including symphony music, gospel and such renown singer-songwriters as Vance Gilbert, Karla Bonoff, and the Wailin' Jennys. Somehow, we got in the mix, so that is very OK! Check our calendar page for a link to the series line-up. The second leg of the "Lakeside Tour" takes us to Lake Guntersville, AL for the "Concerts at Lakeside" series in Civitan Park. This park is the site of the MOVA Song Writing Competition where we have entered our songs in 2003 and 2005. We absolutely love the place and the folks at the Mountain Valley Arts Council. Go to their site at to see a photo of Roberta taken by Vickie at least year's MOVA! The third leg of the Lakeside Tour happens in October, so you see what we mean about "widely-scattered." More on that later... Have a great summer. Enjoy some live music with those you love. Raise on! Roberta, Violet and Vickie

June Buzz

Thanks to everyone who went on to the Judy Auction site to help us raise some funds for treatment. You are truly awesome people! Gerry Zembrodt bid on us for some holiday music. Thank you,Gerry! Let us know where, when, etc. and we'll book it. Lots going on this month for the ladies of Raison D'Etre. We just played the lovely newly-sheltered Gazebo Stage at Coney Island for Summerfair. The fair had an excellent weekend, so I hope you made it out. We also just finished our first-ever performance at Acoustic Lunch thanks to Johnny Schott, WNKU, LPK and the Cincinnati Park Board. What a beautiful day for the 2006 kick-off concert! Coming up still in June, we'll be at the Richmond Summer Concert Series in Irvine-McDowell Park on Tuesday, June 13. Then we'll take it down the road to Berea, KY for our first concert at the Artisan Center on June 17. June 19(a Monday night) finds us back home in the WNKU studios for Studio 89 at 9 pm. If you want to be part of the studio audience, just call (859)572-6500 beginning on June 13. It's a very fun experience watching Pam Temple interview the acts. Gary and Roberta joined Dixie Hoffman for an evening starring bluesman, Greg Schaber last season and really had a blast. We finish out the month (June 23 &24) at Dilly Deli in Mariemont, OH and The Kentucky Haus Artisan Center in Newport, KY. As always, just check our Calendar page for more details. Next time you check in for news, it will be SUMMER and time for the Coffee Cup Series! Hope to see you then. Raise on! Roberta, Violet and Vickie

May Day! May Day! Street-walking Bonnet-heads...

Raison D'Etre may be forced to walk the streets this holiday season. And we won't even mind since it's all for a good cause. Jennifer Rose, Normandi Ellis and Alfredo Escobar have teamed up to present a silent auction on Jennifer's website for the merry month of May. La Raison? The much-loved Judy Sizemore, Regional Outreach Director and arts in education consultant has been diagnosed with breast cancer. If that were not bad news enough, Judy is one of those public servants not covered by health insurance since she is an independent contractor. So, artists on the Kentucky Arts in Education roster, and other artists who just felt they wanted to contribute, are offering their works and services to the highest bidder until May 31. Proceeds from the auction go directly to Judy's treatment. Just go to: to see the gorgeous visual art pieces, CD & book bundles, performer concerts and student compilations that are up for bid. There is also an excellent tee-shirt for purchase designed by Alfredo that includes a quote by Judy. Raison D'Etre is auctioning our services for your holiday party, office party, art opening, exhibit or luncheon. We'll even dress as pioneer carolers if you want. Please make this May--the passionate season of renewal and growth--special for all of us. Make a bid from the heart. Make us "street-walkers," and we'll love ya for it. Raise on! Roberta, Violet & Vickie

"April, come she will..."--Paul Simon

After an incredibly busy February, and a fairly busy March, Raison D'Etre is enjoying a little breather in which we are working up some new songs. Derek Sivers of CD Baby said in one of his recents posts that musicians of today are often so caught up in the "getting somewhere" concept made even more immediate by internet presence that they forget why they do it in the first place. So Wednesday nights at rehearsal are becoming more about the songs and less about prep for the next show. It's kind of like waiting for the buds to bloom. There's a sweetness in the air of anticipation. Last month we saw the first traces of spring at Twin Oaks Country Club where Brighton Center honored their senior volunteers with an appreciation banquet. We did a short 1940s set for the 200+ RSVP attendees(Retired Senior Volunteer Program.) Then Roberta spent three days with the 5th grade class of Sandy Hook Elementary in Sandy Hook, KY as part of an Arts Academy Follow-up Residency. While studying musical elements and the connections between literature and music, the 5th grade also became the first ever "Redbird Choir" by learning to sing three-part back-up to Roberta's song, "The Redbird Song." Many thanks to Vicky Riffe, Michelle Ison, and the students and staff at Sandy Hook for the wonderful hospitality. Raison D'Etre has many exciting spring dates coming up. April 29 we return to the Dilly Deli for three fun sets from 7:30-10:30 pm. Check out their menu and wine lists at Just check our calendar page for details on the Appalachian Festival, The Governor's Derby Celebration, a program at the Boone County Library in Florence, Summerfair, Acoustic Lunch and an outdoor concert in Richmond, KY. We hope to see you down the road. Until then, raise on, don't defer those dreams, and stop to smell the fresh air of spring! Roberta, Violet & Vickie

"Blow on, chilly wind...

"I've got a real high collar That's worth many a dollar So, I don't feel a thing." --Jesse Winchester Just a little March quote to suit the unpredictable snow,sleet,fog,rain,70 degree to 25 degree nature of this month. I was born in it, so maybe that explains a few things. So far, it's been that kind of month. We played Kentucky Crafted: the Market on March 4 to huge crowds enjoying Kentucky arts, crafts, food and music. Lori, Mark, Melissa, and Amber from the Kentucky Arts Council ran the cultural stage and the KAC Marketplace without a hitch. Nancy Atcher greeted folks at the Market door. Saw Fran Redmond holding down the fort. Thanks to everyone for a great cultural stage experience. Especially John Gage and the Homefront soundman for making the timing and performance easy. Great to see Sally and her mom, Audrey, Vickie's cousins Sandy and Cindy, and all you other wonderful people who stopped by to say hello. We stayed around for Greg Schaber's set, then headed back up the highway to prepare for our evening at the Monmouth on March 5. Great to see Bob, Rosanne, Bob's parents, Mom, and Gary at the Monmouth. Small, but mighty audience. Thanks to Al, Joy, Rose, and George for providing the venue for the Women's Music Festival. Thanks to Debra Randall and the ladies from Womens Way for supporting our work. Women's Way still has three more weekends of women's music at The Monmouth Theatre in Newport, KY. Check out the calendar at: Please support these shows as they try to raise money for women's efforts in all of the arts. And speaking of unpredictable, HEARTS CONTENT received an excellent review at! You just gotta love it! Check our review page for a link to their site. Raise on, and don't defer those dreams. Wear a high collar when the chilly wind blows. Roberta

"You make me smile with my heart..."

I have always loved the song, "My Funny Valentine" because it says so much about real love and acceptance. so, I'm quoting from it as a greeting to those of you who choose to love and accept us and our music. You make each day Valentine's Day. We have some fun news this month. First of all, Raison D'Etre has been selected as Southern Artistry's "Spotlight Artist" for the month of February. You can go to their website at and select the link "Search for Artists" in the Artist Community section. There you will see that we are featured for the month. It's a happy accident for us because Southern Artistry doesn't even know that we have a new CD entitled HEARTS CONTENT, just right for that February spot! Funny how some things just fall together. Thanks to the Southern Arts Federation for getting this great website together for promoting arts in the South. And since we live very near the Mason-Dixon Line, we are also honored to be part of Cincinnati's Fine Arts Fund Sampler Weekend, an annual arts showcase to kick off the Fine Arts Fund Campaign in Greater Cincinnati. Performances, visual art and literature happen all over the tristate area on the weekend nearest Valentine's Day, giving folks a sweet taste of the richness of the arts in their area. You can check our calendar page for where we will be, but a detailed schedule of all the events is available at We hope to see some of you at Dilly Deli when we make our debut there on February 17 from 7-10. Come by after work for some food and beverage backed by a little acoustic/folky/swing. Check out their site at And last, but certainly not least, we have a CD-signing event for HEARTS CONTENT at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Norwood, OH. We'll be there during the Sunday brunch hours of 11 am-1 pm. Stop on by to browse, buy and listen to tunes. Have a joyful Valentine's Day. Make someone feel special. Roberta

"We'll take a cup of kindness..."

All week I've been doing a mental inventory of "The Year in Review." You know, the story that just won't leave you alone in the papers, online and on TV. The year of hurricanes, and war, and endless political crossfire. So, here's a little glimpse of the year in review from three women who know their reason for being(even though sometimes it gets a little tricky actually living up to that reason!) Best of 2005(According to Raison D'Etre) •Showcasing at OAPN without running off the stage. •Showcasing at Kentucky on Stage even though the car broke down and Roberta forgot her guitar strap and Vickie broke her hand. •Three days of good weather at the Appalachian Festival. Thanks for the photo shoots, Margaret! •Derby Day Breakfast at the Capitol. •Judge's Choice Awards at MOVA. •Womens Way concert at Grailville with Katie Laur and her All-Girl Bluegrass band. •Singing back-up to Bill Miller's version of "Heaven's Door" again. •Lunch with Christine Lavin at the airport. •Being on Channel 9 News with Beth Charlton to promote the Fine Arts Fund Sampler Weekend. •Finishing our 5th CD, HEARTS CONTENT, after 8 months. Alex's "cat songs" and Freddie's photo shoots in the halls of WGUC. •Releasing our CD at Kentucky Haus and Leo Coffee House. •Getting airplay on WNKU, WAIF, WVXU, WFDU, and WJFF! Thank you! Thank you! •Being included in two great Christmas radio shows: Brian O'D's "Christmas Caravan" and Lee Hay's "Christmas Around Cincinnati." •Jan Perry's kind notice of our efforts. Mike Breen's review of HEARTS CONTENT. •Ron Einhaus' tireless documentation of the Coffee Cup Series in digital photos. •Wonderful people who read this stuff and then show up when we carol in the cold. You rock! •Singing for so many of our Grant's Lick neighbors at the Barrington. •Talking to the Thorntons at "Forks of the Licking." •Playing so many new(for us) venues: The Mercantile Library, Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park, Mountain Grace Conference, The Griffin Center("Forks of the Licking"), Carroll County Library, and the Carrico branch of Campbell County Library. It really has been a great year full of blessings. Thanks to all of you who help us RAISE ON! Have a new year filled with joy! And don't defer those dreams. Roberta, Violet and Vickie

"September, November..."--September Song

So, I kept telling Gary that I needed a November quote for this page. He told me to use part of that sad song from the 1940s about time passing so quickly. Only one problem, that song--while truly feeling like November--is called "September Song." So, I quoted it. The song goes on to say, "and these few precious days, I'll spend with you. These precious days I'll spend with you." That's what Raison D'Etre has been doing this month. Spending time with some really great groups of people! After a very busy October, where Vickie ended up breaking her hand, we showcased at Kentucky on Stage on November 2 despite the car breaking down at Tire Discounters in Dry Ridge, KY. Some very nice folks got us back on the road with coolant, Greg Schaber loaned me his very best guitar strap--since in my rattled condition, I'd left mine at home--and everyone from the Arts Council tried to help us locate somewhere to get the car fixed before we headed back from Lexington. So, Violet headed out of town for a Tourism conference, while Vickie and I performed a "Two-Thirds" concert for New Hope Methodist in Southgate. She actually tried to play the banjo for the first time since breaking her hand. The doctor knows that now, so I guess I am no longer revealing a secret. Then we set out on the "Mini-tour": Grailville Oratory for Womens Way on November 12 was a blast with Katie Laur and her All Girl Band! We played our set to the wonderful and appreciative crowd, then settled in to enjoy the bluegrass from Katie and gals. The harmonies and pickin' were so fine, that one patron got up to clog on camera! The whole concert was videotaped for an upcoming documentary. We want to thank Womens Way for believing in us and also thank Bev Holiday and the Thomans for coming out to the show! The next night we headed up to Leo Coffee House for our Ohio CD Release. Again we got to enjoy the great music of a song writer named Bob Kotz and his friend, Frank. In addition, the LeCroys jammed with Lennie on some very fine stringband tunes. Fingers were flyin'! Thanks to the Balladeers for letting us perform a CD Release set at one of the longest-running folk clubs in existence. We really appreciate the folks who came out just to hear us, too: The Spurlocks and the nice couple who heard us at Bill Miller's concert. I know they were impressed with the Leo and will return. The last leg of the "Mini-tour" took us back to Barrington Retirement Community where we performed an Autumn show for the residents. It wasn't until after the set that we realized we knew so many of the folks in the audience from Grant's Lick! Our neighbor and teacher, Mrs. Yelton, Mrs. Wiley(my 4th grade teacher), a classmate's mom, Mrs. Reynolds, and Millie Lyle...a great hug fest ensued. We knew the Brinkmans would be there, but never suspected how many other friends would be in the audience! So, yeah. These precious days we'll spend with you...anytime!

October Road

"Try to remember the kind of September, then follow..." We have lots of news for you! On September 18, the ladies of Raison D'Etre became award-winning song writers at MOVA's Song Writing Competition in Lake Guntersville, AL. Violet Rae's song, "I've Got the Heart" was a finalist in the Soft Rock/Adult Pop Category and received a "Judge's Choice Award." Roberta's song, "Broken Radio," also received a "Judge's Choice Award." Both songs are on our new CD, HEARTS CONTENT, available very soon on CD Baby. We'll alert you when it is available on line. October brings a showcase at OAPN in Newark, OH, a CD Release Event at Kentucky Haus Crafts, our first appearance at StoneBrook Winery in Camp Springs, and several private events involving our Swing Canary alter-egos. We hope to see you on the road somewhere. Even though the hurricanes have come and gone from the Gulf Coast, the destruction to thousands of lives still lingers. To do our small part, we have added another recording to CD Baby's Red Cross Gallery. Through October you can help the victims of Hurricane Katrina by purchasing a CD from the Red Cross Gallery at CD Baby. 100% of the artist profit goes to the Red Cross to continue to aid people in getting their lives back together. We have added CHRISTMAS BELLES to the effort this month along with BROADMAN BABIES, our gospel recording that has already been up there for a month. You can find them at CHRISTMAS BELLES BROADMAN BABIES Thanks for helping us raise on! Vickie, Violet, and Roberta

Dog Star Waning...

Here we stand near the end of a long, hot summer. Taking inventory. The 2005 Coffee Cup Concert Series has just ended with all its attendant tallies and interpretations. While the heat and three rain evenings took their toll, some 1200 folks still showed up for the eight-week series. As one of the original committee members, I can recall dreaming of reaching 1000 in eight weeks. Raison D'Etre also finished mixing our fifth recording project, HEARTS CONTENT during the first week of this sizzling month. We are now awaiting the call from QCA for pick-up and planning our release events. Interesting side trips... Bill Miller invited us to sing back-up for his encore at the Coffee Cup again. He said we sounded like "a freakin' record." I'll take that as a compliment. Gary(the Schultz), Rosanne(sister) and I went to the second annual "Clear Creek Festival" on Zoe Speaks' land outside of Berea. What a beautiful place, great music, and fun bunch o' human beans. All of the artists' children gathered onstage for some spirited Beatles music led by maestra, Carla. We took an awesome herb walk through the forest. Lots of Coffee Cuppers attended. Life(is) was good! Next month takes Raison D to Alabama and the MOVA Arts Festival/Songwriting Competition. We're also happy to be part of a gathering of Episcopalians from Ohio's Appalachian counties called "Mountain Grace II" in Sardinia, OH. Storyteller Omope Carter Daboiku and poets Pauletta Hansel and Richard Hague are also on the program. Until next month, raise on...and don't defer those dreams! Roberta

Hot Stuff in July!

So, every outdoor concert we've played since June 1, the thermometer has topped 90! If you missed the hot, hot, hot wild carrot and Raison D'Etre July 21st Coffee Cup Concert(or any of them so far), Ron Einhaus posts photos on his site. Check them out at our link page. HEARTS CONTENT is in post-production. We'll send it off to CD Baby so that you can order it online if you don't live anywhere near the Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati area. Christine Lavin gave Roberta a demo of her new release(due out late September.) It is fabulous! Of course, it is loaded with lots of funny stuff and commentary, but there are also some beautiful arrangements and songs featuring Christine's serious side. You will definitely want one. Roberta just returned from the Kentucky Arts in Education Roster Artist Retreat in Faubush, KY. Besides dancing in Jim Webb's workshop and making all sorts of rice dishes with Omope Carter Daboiku, she enjoyed taking in nightly performances at the Java Hut, making healing art, taking many walks with Pat Banks, and synchronized swimming! What an experience! What an Arts Council!

Because it's June...

What a month so far! Just the first weekend took our breath away. We played Carroll County Public Library's gala after dinner. Their dinner music was provided by favorite son, Clint Davis, a fine pianist on music scholarship. I suspect we'll all be hearing more from him. On Saturday had a blast playing the Vocal Arts Gazebo at Summerfair while members of the Schultz family caught our act and multicultural dance companies(including sister-in-law, Pat's cloggers) at Moonlight Gardens. Of course, we did the celebratory walk around to see all the great art. Vickie's word for the day was "textiles." On Sunday we experienced the awesome Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park near Hamilton, OH. I really wish Vickie had brought her camera so we could post a few "floating photos," but I'm sure we will go back for an outing. Playing right next to Lake Nancy turned out to be fortunate since the thermometer rose to 92! The following weekend took us back to Carrico Branch of the Campbell County Library where we were glad to see some familiar faces and break out a few of our newer songs from "Hearts Content." On June 17th, I was invited to represent Raison D'Etre in Frankfort at The Women's Economic Summit for an evening celebrating women artists. I saw a wonderful performance from Union College Freshman, Haley S. Bowling, who portrays military pioneer, Anna Mac Clarke for the Kentucky Humanities Council. How inspiring to be among so many women who are making a difference! This week a few guest artists are coming into Corbett Studio to help us put finishing touches on "Hearts Content." Almost there... We'll be performing at Kentucky Haus Crafts on Saturday June 25, from 12-2 pm where Bev will take orders for "Hearts Content" since her store will debut the first copies(whenever they finally exist, sigh!) Come on down to Newport, KY at 10th and Monroe for some fun. July 1st we're at the first-ever "Forks of the Licking Folk Jamboree," produced by Kincaid Regional Theatre. Kyle Meadows' Onion Traders and a few more guest artists are also on the bill. Concert starts at 8 pm in the Griffin Centre, Falmouth(Pendleton County Fairgrounds!) Raise on...and don't defer those dreams!

Slippin' Away...

"What can I say? Won't you stay inside me, month of May, And hold on to me golden day, slippin' away." --James Taylor Here we are, nearing the end of May and the studio hours continue. We are seeing the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, though. Freddie Thoman has the artwork concept sketched, we have most of the basic instrumental tracks recorded, so we're a few sessions away from the mixdown. "Hearts Content" might find its way to you this summer after all. Check back next month for an update. The Appalachian Festival enjoyed warm, dry weather all three days. We saw Harold and his spoons, and even Mr. Spoons. Robin stopped by to see his birch bark brochure holder still functioning admirably. Margaret Plowdrey took our annual photo(top left, this page), hundreds of kids played Vickie's dulcimer(and left a few traces of funnel cake behind on the frets.) Bob and crew dipped candles, displayed ceramic tiles, played banjo, and caught up with each other's lives, Becky and her beautiful girls wove their mountain tapestries into rugs, purses, and mug mats. Thousands of people paraded by to chat, buy, and hang out. Some bikers suggested that we might make a good act for their event. They requested "Do Lord," which we did, on the spot after some 9 years of not performing it. On Saturday, Mom Webster and Rosanne held down the fort while we drove to Frankfort for the Derby Day Breakfast performance on the Governor's Stage. Talked to Morehead buddy, Wayne Cusick from Tourism while we waited our turn on the stage, ate that great country breakfast in the big tent. then headed back to the Appalachian Festival. Late Saturday night we got a little punchy and started singing a song called "Trashman Voodoo" to the Coney staff hauling large trash bins down our row. Long day! Last night we performed at the Volunteer Awards Banquet for the Cincinnati Museum Center. Some 375 people showed up to honor this hardworking bunch of volunteers. Tonight we're back in the studio. Hope to see some of you at Summerfair June 4, 1:30 pm, Vocal Arts Gazebo Stage or at Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park in Hamilton, 4 pm June 5th. More news in June!

Traipsin' Raisons

As you can see, we have a new website, so Roberta is getting a workout on the Mac. Sign our guestbook to let us know you actually check in! Roberta and Violet laced up their walking shoes for "Race for the Cure" through downtown Cincinnati and Newport last weekend. Sister, Rosanne, and niece, Shannon, accompanied the Raison Contingency on the 5K walk through the cold April rain. We're in the studio twice this week trying to finish up basic tracks for our upcoming CD, HEARTS CONTENT...June release? Don't forget The Appalachian Festival May 6-8 at Old Coney. We'll be the human jukeboxes in the booth. Smiling faces will help! Maybe we'll see a few of you at the Govenor's Derby Day Breakfast at 8 am on May 7 in Frankfort. We'll be on the Governor's Stage(near to the food, we hope!) Raise on, and don't defer those dreams...