Wednesday, October 5, 2016

I Can't Help It if My Heart Takes Over...

Hi guys!

I am DETERMINED to catch my blog back up to present time before I leave for tour on October 19th. It's going to happen...we're so close!

So here we are at MAY and the release of my latest record, "Little Games".

If you were at my album release show in Lowell, MI on May 20, 2016, THANK YOU.


It was a wonderful night and my heart still gets all warm and fuzzy when I think about the love you all showed us and the new songs. It's always a little nerve wracking playing new songs for the first time. One, because you really don't want to mess them up. Two, because you really want people to like the new material. And Three, because it's opening my journal up again and inviting people in, which sorta terrifies me in the best way.

But honestly.

I've never been more proud of a record, of the music I'm making and the songs I'm writing. Y'alls response to this album has been a dream.

Here are some highlights from one of my favorite days to date. If you follow me on Facebook you've seen the black and white versions of the photos below. Here are some of the beautiful full color photos that Sharon K captured that night.

Thank you Sharon K for always going above and beyond for me. Sharon also shot the photography for the album. I'll share more of those photos on my Facebook page soon!

We held the Little Games Album Release show at Impact Church in Lowell, MI. The crew did such an awesome job creating cool screens and backdrops for the show! Thanks guys!

My talented and wonderful friend, S. Martin opened the show for us and was fantastic. He joined me on stage during my set to play a song we worked on together called, "I Think It Started There." Check out the Music Video we made for that song if you'd like and check out S. Martin's music while you're at it! 

My good pal, Keller Media Productions shot the music video for us. 

I know it seems like Justin has been in the band forever, but he is actually the newest member. He joined in April and his first show ever was the Album Release show. No Pressure. ;) 
(he was great). 

This little one was adorable. Best seat in the house. :)

I'm so thankful for this wonderful crew of extraordinarily talented musicians I get to make music with and who continue to grow with this new music. I'm never not blown away by the musicians and songwriters I get to create with.

Little Games Album Release Show Band 

Drums: Brian V.
Bass: Mat Churchill 
Lead Electric: Ryder Jones
Fiddle: Susan Mora
Acoustic Guitar: Justin Eames


JAM City. 

If you have not had the chance yet to hear Susan Mora play the fiddle, you are MISSING out.

She is one of the most wonderfully gifted musicians I have had the chance to play with. We did a stripped down version of "How Great Thou Art" at this show and it took everything I had not to breakdown during the middle of it. Her playing alone, without my vocals, could have carried that moment. I always look forward to sharing the stage with her. 

Had to share a few of the black and white shots too. :) 

Nothin' But Love.


The weeks leading up to the album release show were absolutely nuts. There was SO much to do and not enough hours in the day to do it. I hate to say it, but I was totally stressed out up until minutes before hitting the stage. Once I got out there though and I saw all of your faces and heard all of your encouragement, the stress and worry left me in an instant. Really. I felt that huge weight disappear into nothing and I knew everything was going to be alright. 

The stage always does that. 
You guys always do that. 

Thanks for what you've done for me with this album. You've breathed a new and refreshing life into my music and into this journey that could not have come at a better time. I've already had to place another big order for albums because of the way you've all supported this record since it's release on May 20th and that is crazy. Thank you. 


Little Games is the last 4 years of my life. 

It's all the moments I felt like a failure and thought about giving up and it's all the moments I felt like I'd just written the best song of my career. 

It's the darkness. It's when I felt lost and helpless everywhere, when even the most familiar places and faces felt foreign and far away. It's learning that ghosts will follow no matter where you go or where you try to hide and you have to acknowledge and deal with them in the dark AND in the light if you want to be rid of them. 

It's finally being able to say that it's OK to not be OK. 

It's heartbreak. It's failed relationships and realizing that moving on is more difficult than I thought it would be. It's learning that you have to let it hurt sometimes and that the most honest I will ever be is when I'm driving down the road crying until I can't breathe admitting that I don't have it all together and that my heart is broken. 

It's accepting the past and knowing that it doesn't own me and I'm better now for living through it. It's understanding that the things we go through in life define us in the ways that we choose to let them define us, not the other way around. 

It's learning that I don't have to make the same mistakes. 

It's realizing that I'm only part of the game if I choose to be and that yeah, love is blind when you're with the wrong person. Because we all like to think we're impervious to the pain and we're the one calling the game until we realize we're not. Because love is only good when it's good love. It's learning that no matter how hard I try, just because I love someone, it doesn't mean they're gonna love me back. It's learning that I can play the game or forfeit for something better. 

It's letting go. 

It's finding out that sometimes it's the best feeling to just write a fun song. Because sometimes writing a western storyline about a cheater who gets what's coming to him or a two-steppin' ditty about two lonely souls meeting in a bar and making the best of it is exactly what I need to write. (Plus, it's just really fun.)

It's realizing that sometimes you have to throw your plans, preconceived notions and road maps out the window and just roll with it. Because it's OK to have expectations, but it's important to not be focusing so much on what you don't have yet or where you've yet to go, that you forget all of the blessings and all the life you've got to live right in front of you. 

It's finally figuring out that I'm not perfect and I don't need or want to be perfect. Because life doesn't have to be a rehearsed and scripted event all the time and I don't have to live up to any expected set of standards that feel wrong in my heart. Because learning how to be OK with being myself in the skin that God crafted for me is the best thing that ever happened to me. And it's OK that learning these things and following my path is a process that I sometimes have to figure out by disappearing and going nowhere for a little while. 

It's learning to say no and knowing when to say yes. 

It's knowing when to leave and learning that staying in a bad situation waiting for it change will keep you there forever. It's leaving because someone is not treating my heart right. It's walking out the door and not looking back on everything that was holding me back. It's being OK with having to throw the flames for once. 

It's saying, "just hold on" to struggling innocent hearts who can't see how much more life and love and experience there is out in this world. Because no matter what happens to your heart, your heart is beautiful and one let down is just one small puzzle piece in this game. Because sometimes we have no idea the incredible ways we're capable of loving and the amazing and worthwhile adventures that are still to come. It's saying out loud, "don't lose that wonder or that capacity to love. Just hang on, sweetheart."

It's a lot of little games I play with myself trying to figure out how this is all going to go. It's learning that the choice to play those little games or listen to the the voices that tell me I'm not good enough, or worthy enough, or that I need "this" to be "that" are my own. 

It's making mistakes and going through some of the darkest and loneliest and hardest and scariest and most interesting and challenging and wonderful and rewarding moments of my life and finding my way out to the other side somehow. 

It's realizing that it's all a process. 
It's always a process.
And it's always going to be a process. 

And. That's. OK.

Because you find the most beautiful and worthwhile parts of life living through the process instead of just going through the motions. 

It's finally being able to honestly start living in them.

So thanks for loving this album, guys. Thanks for letting me be honest with you. Thanks for living and loving through it with me and hanging in there and showing me grace when I wasn't at my best. Most of all, thank you for reminding me why I love music and writing and this life as a music maker so much. 

This record helped me find that again and I hope in some way it helps you find something you're missing or needing too. 

Album artwork by the incredible Jenna Ritsema, by the way. She knocked it way out of the park.

Man, all this album talk has me excited get back in the studio and get to work on the next one. I've already started writing it as I live through this phase of life and I look forward to the chance to share those stories with you. 

Also, I promise not to make you guys wait 4 years for the next one this time. :)

You can hear Little Games on my website or on iTunes. It's available digitally, at all of my shows and also on my website store

Wanna read a quick and fun review John Sinkevics wrote about "Little Games" for Local Spins? You can follow the link below to check that out if you'd like. Huge thanks to him for the kind words and for the support he and WYCE RADIO and Local Spins have given this album. 


Thanks for reading guys. 

Nothin' but love. 

xo - Kari 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Kari for sharing your journey. It's an incredible one to say the least. Your words here give this 60 year old whose only a couple of years into following his life long music journey a reason not to quit and believe you me I'm just about at that point. Keep writing and recording your songs and I'll keep listening and coming to watch you at your gigs!!!

    Have a great time on your tour and thank you again Kari for sharing!

    We'll see you soon,

    Rick Stone