Charnwood Minstrel Part 4: The Songmistress

I was featured in Paul Carden’s Charnwood Minstrel Blog! I like the way that sounds: ‘The Songmistress – Charnwood Minstrel’. Yes!

Carden's Culture Corner

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Since her first appearance there, Autumn Dawn Leader has become an integral member of the Loughborough Acoustic Club family. She has a rich, powerful voice and plays piano as well as the lyre and various other instruments. Her songs include beautiful piano ballads, delicate harp songs and the occasional happy song which sneaks in when she isn’t looking.
She has recently released an album called ‘The Other Side‘ which was produced by Amos Parkinson and features Amos on drums, Bob Breeze on guitar and Asher Rossell on bass.
Autumn is originally from Chicago, grew up in Florida, and moved to the UK in 2004.


Not only is Autumn a terrific solo performer but she was also lead vocalist in a band called The Chairs. She performs in a duo called String Theory with Mark Pimperton on guitar and vocals, and has recently been collaborating with Steve Cartwright in a…

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Searching For You

C.S. Lewis said, ‘We read to know we are not alone.’

This is also why we listen to music. And, ‘if sad songs say so much’, as Elton John has rightly said, then my songs speak volumes.

This post is about me finding the right fan base for my music.  See, I know I’m not alone out there in what I suffer with major depression, anxiety, borderline personality disorder, chronic pain, suicidal thoughts and everything that goes along with these conditions. In writing this blog, and reading others, I have certain proof that I am not alone. And, yet, we are all uniquely alone in what we individually suffer. My music helps me to express and, in a very magical way, make beauty come from the horrific thing called life/existence. This is my gift. However, in another way, it complicates matters, because, with it, comes the intense frustration, anger, and sadness of not seeming to be able to get my music out there to the people it will most speak to and resonate with.

The thing is, I need a fan base—and I KNOW you’re out there, I’ve even spoken to a good number of you. Now, there are just a whole lot of people who aren’t ever going to like and support my music (even those who rave about my voice and talent), simply because they can’t relate to it.  I need to find those of you who will relate and find some comfort, expression and solidarity in what I do. I know I’m not alone, but I seem to keep pitching my music to the same people who don’t understand what I am going through in my daily life in general. In this way, I need a very specific audience. I know that audience does exist.  And, I truly believe it is an audience that NEEDS a musical voice.

I don’t want this post to just be some advertisement. And, I don’t want it to be me begging for people to check out my music like some sad failed loser of an indie artist. This is simply me putting out a search to see who’s out there in this Blogdom that my music might touch. ‘Hello? Is it me you’re looking for?’

Yes, I know that even for those of us with similar health problems, our musical tastes are not all going to be the same, of course…  but, if you are a music lover, just check my stuff out – if it vibes with you, then great. I do incorporate a wide range of styles in what I write and perform, so there’s a good chance that something I do will hit the spot.

I’ve just released a new studio album for digital download.  No, I am not giving it away for free (giving away my stuff in the past hasn’t helped me gain fans anyway). Musicians have bills to pay, like all craftsmen/craftswomen. I REALLY shouldn’t have to explain this, but in this day and age where musical talent can be faked with software and those of us with real gifts are left in an industry bankrupt and bereft, without a leg to stand on, many of us feel forced to give our lifeblood away in any desperate bid to get noticed. The thing is, most of us literally cannot afford to do it. I cannot afford to do it. Furthermore, it’s worth far more than the modest price I’ve put on it anyway.  I owe it to the other fine musicians and the exceptional producer I worked with to bring this piece of art and labour of love to completion to not just ‘give it away’, as if all our hard work meant nothing. Good music, real music… it costs something.  It costs those of us who make it – it should cost those of you who hear it. It’s part of the deal – it costs us all, but we ALL get so much in return…look at it as an investment. And, finding something you personally can relate to…well, that value cannot be understated or underrated.

So, this album isn’t a freebie, but you can listen to the tracks on bandcamp without paying; however, if you want to own the album and listen whenever and wherever you are, get the special bonus track and extra artwork, as well as support me as an artist (I’ll be eternally grateful), well, then, surely that makes the tiny monetary price a worthy investment.

Thank you for reading and listening. I hope I will hear from you soon.  Most of all, I hope (there’s that four letter word again) my music will reach who will most benefit from hearing it. I’ll finish here and let the songs speak for themselves.

The World As I Know It

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Most of the time I feel like a frightened, helpless little girl or, more often lately, a frightened, washed up, helpless old woman.  I realise what I have never felt like – what I’ve never been – is a confident, capable adult.

This is not just me being too hard on myself again. I’ve really never been a functioning adult. As a child, I craved adulthood, thinking that that was where the respect lay. Adults made things happen. But, in reality, of course, the respect we think we see adults receive when we are children is just an elaborate deception; it doesn’t exist. And adults only make things happen if and when they can. It’s not just a given that comes with age. But, adults do function and are capable of independence.

I find I missed adulthood altogether. It may be a BPD thing. Whatever it is, it’s painful. I struggle with it everyday. As I try to be a parent. As I try to be successful in music. As I try to traverse the wild and winding road of human interaction and relationships. I struggle.  And, again and again, I fail miserably.

Take care of me. Shut this world out. I need a blanket. I need a hand to hold and walk me across the street. Everything is too much. I’m overwhelmed. Make that phone call for me, PLEASE. I can’t do it myself. Love me, coddle me, make over what I do. Fucking HELP ME! I’m weak and frail and broken and too young and too old and too me. And, it hurts and I just want to hide and sleep and someone to wake me up when it’s all easy, or else don’t wake me up at all.

Thinking Like A Dreamer

Friendship is a tough road to traverse for those of us who suffer from social anxiety and those of us who suffer from bpd.  Relationships are tricky and highly emotionally charged…and, unfortunately, sometimes they’re very hard to keep. I wrote this song, with an ache in my heart, as it came to me in a whirlwind. And, sadly, I know that I’m not the only one who can relate.  It will resonate with many who know what I’m talking, um, singing about.

Compulsion, Obsession and Despair

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I am totally weary to the point of crying. My body aches, my eyes sting and I can’t swallow the lump in my throat. Life sucks and I hate it.

I should just sleep as much as I can, but I am compelled to get out of bed and try – in vain – to promote my music. Again.

Try this. That didn’t work, so try this instead. Try this again. Keep trying.

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Self-promotion is soul destroying. We are encouraged to “get ourselves out there and make it clear we’re here to do business” but, when we do, we’re made to feel like we are harassing our friends and family; we can’t win. We are told to ask for help by people like Amanda Palmer who have successfully crowdfunded their projects. We are told that if they can do it so can we. But, we find the cold truth that some people are simply charmed; they ask and get help, while the rest if us ask and receive nothing.

And here I am now, throwing more rose petals to the wind, ranting to the air in a blog post, feeling desperation and despair.

“I cannot sleep for all these dreams” – Marillion

I know now that I’m not alone in my woe.  I am acquainted with plenty other (excellent) artists in my sad, sinking boat. And, I also know that this situation is NOT an indicator of talent. The world misses out on some of the greatest artists of all time simply because some of those with the most massive talent weren’t blessed with the massive break they deserved.

I sit here in turmoil. Should I spend the energy uploading my stuff to this and that again, in hope that this time my efforts will be worth it? Or, do I take a deep breath and accept that nothing I ever do will work and go back to bed and, at the least, have sleep to show for it?

Gah!

I’m going to be a long time dead. Now is when I have bills to pay and children to feed. I have tried to comfort myself with knowledge that, by recording my music, I have left a legacy for after I’m gone. My kids can say, “Listen! My mum sounded like THIS”. My voice will still be able to be heard. And, on my gravestone they can write, “She tried. She failed. At last, she’s at rest.”

Because, I did try (and masochistically keep on trying); I did ask (and I keep asking) for help; I keep knocking, only to find success behind a locked and bolted door. Excluded. Discriminated against. “This isn’t for you!”

And, I want to not care anymore. I want to accept failure. I want to quit feeling this obsession to keep, sadistically, trying. But, the burning tears running down my face right now prove I’m not close to being in that gloriously apathetic place.

One more time, sitting here, I deliberate over uploading some new stuff to bbc introducing (maybe this time will be different) or just going to the toilet and heading back to bed. At this point, I don’t know which I’ll do. I’ll get back to you on it…or not.

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When The Joke Isn’t Funny

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Life’s a joke. It certainly isn’t funny. But, more specifically, I’ve noticed how pain (mostly physical pain, but emotional pain, as well) affects my sense of humour. It puts a rather large dent in my ability to “take a joke”.

In regards to emotional pain, when there’s a sensitive issue, an insensitive person, believing themselves to be funny, can reduce me to a quivering mass of tears.

Today, I overheard an obtuse and insensitive family member tease my son, joking that he should be sent to National Service until he learns to do as he’s told.

My son’s chronic disobedience is a problem, yes. But, saying this to my 7 year old boy made him very upset. He didn’t find anything funny about it. And, a sensitive and observant person who claims to love my son should know that he fears being “sent away” from home. To him, this was a nightmare, not a joke. So, then, not only was my son terrified by the scenario he couldn’t see as funny, he was then further berated for not being able to take a joke.

Now, if someone looking from the outside only saw this one situation, you might assume my son doesn’t have much of a sense of humour. But, you would be sooooo wrong.

We call him “the funny dude” for a reason. He has had, from a very early age, a grasp on comedy and a highly developed ability to see and share the hilarious. He IS a FUNNY dude. He can make AND take a joke. However, he has a sensitivity (and anxiety) when it comes to the idea that his dad and I wouldn’t be there; a fear that he’s going to be “sent away”. He doesn’t want to contemplate it. There’s no logical reason for him to be scared that we would send him away, but that’s the thing about anxieties and phobias: they don’t follow your bloody reasoning and logic.

The thing is, if there is a raw spot or pain somewhere, the joke (no matter how you see it from your perspective) is not going to be seen as a joke to me or, now I can see, my boy. We will see it as a threat. It is either YOUR threat. Or it is Life’s threat. And, it – Life – has chosen you, you bastard, as its mouthpiece. Life is shit enough without you being an arsehole and causing added trauma.

I believe my boy will grow out of this sensitivity as he gets older and realises that being “sent away” just isn’t going to happen. And, I want him to behave, of course. I want a lot of things for myself in the way of self-improvement. But, your arsehole therapy is NOT going to get us there. Laughter is very good medicine, but it only works to heal us if we’re the ones who are laughing.

Why is there an owl picture with this post? I wanted something cute and cuddly to look at while I ranted.

Wrong

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I overhear some of the other mothers at school plan going to some zumba class and I walk home thinking, ‘there’s something wrong with me because I don’t want to be involved with these things the others like to do.’ One, it’s social. Two, it’s exercise. Both are painful.

I think about wanting to curl up at home, out of the way. But, I also think about not wanting to be lonely. And that gets me thinking about the friend I used to have. The one who would come and visit me. And it was gentle and easy. I didn’t have to try. Sometimes my friend would pick me up and we’d go for hot chocolate and a stroll in Bradgate park. Again, easy and gentle. Two introverts socialising. Such a difference.

This makes me cry and feel broken. One, that I’m not like these others, these extrovert exercisers. Two, I miss my friend. I was nothing to her.  She doesn’t deserve my tears, but I hurt. I hurt. And I deserve them.

Introverts need interaction, too. But, it is that gentle sort. A visit to watch a film together. Music shared. A lazy drive. A quiet mutual rant to right the world.

No answer or cure for this. I’m not joining the zumba and my friend is never coming back.

My tears are justified.