The Great VW Camper Van Tour
This blog is now on my new website!

Hello!!  Thanks so much for following our adventures on the road in our VW Van.  I’ve moved ‘The Great VW Camper Van’ tour blog over to my new, improved website!

KEEP READING THIS BLOG at http://www.kelleymcrae.com

It’s right on the homepage.  Thanks!! 

The last three weeks have felt a little something like this…

I have been in tour-heaven in California with really fun shows in San Francisco, Oakland, Fresno, Corona, San Luis Obispo, Santa Margarita, Paso Robles, and Los Angeles!  Not to mention a whole week in there for songwriting, which always makes me happy.  These past few weeks I’ve had a heightened sense of gratitude for these days of wandering, of seeing so much beauty, of getting to play music all the time and of waking up and having my job description be ‘write a song today.’  And there’s so much to write about because we’ve done this insane thing and seen the country and collected stories and images along the way and the well is full.  

And I know I’ve said it before, but I really need to say again - THANK YOU - to everyone who has come out to shows, hosted shows and supported us in a hundred different ways.  It’s really thrilling to pursue this dream of making music for a living - and to actually be pulling it off! - there’s so much to be grateful for and so many people who have helped along the way.  So, thank you! 

Songwriting in Montana de Oro…

Cayucos…

and Morro Bay. 

It’s not hard to be creative when your surroundings are so astoundingly beautiful. 

We are in Flagstaff at the moment where we’ll be camped out for a month playing some shows in Arizona, doing pre-production for the third album (HOORAY!) and scheming about where the VW should travel in 2012!  We already have some really fun shows shaping up for next year.  If you have ideas about where we should come play, please don’t hesitate to email me!  kelley[at]kelleymcrae.com

'EarToTheGroundMusic' Interview

We were pumped to be contacted by Casey from the music site ‘EarToTheGroundMusic’ last week.  We ended up doing a fun interview with them about life on the road (8 months in!) and what music we’re finding inspiration from these days.  Here’s a preview.  You can check the whole interview out HERE.

"Our good friends, The Goodly Beggars, pointed us in the direction of Kelley McRae, a fascinating artist on tour right now. Here’s what she’s doing, according to her website, “I quit my job. I sold everything. I bought a VW Camper Van. I’m touring America.” I’m not really sure what else you need me to tell you. After exchanging some emails and reading a little bit more about Kelley, I felt honored that she’d take time to talk to us. She’s an inspiration to everyone who wants to stop the mindlessness of their everyday life and do what they love. Kelley has been featured on NPR’s new series The Hidden World of Girls. She’s been critically acclaimed in Paste Magazine and Amplifier Magazine.

1) This is the obvious question: How’s the VW Bus holding up?

Considering we’re into our 8th month of touring and we’ve traveled about 25,000 miles in that time, the VW Bus is holding up gloriously!  We’ve had some minor troubles along the way, but thankfully, Matt – my husband and guitarist – is also a VW Van mechanic.  At least he is these days!  You can see his handy work here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uUBCxGFId1E

2) What was your inspiration for the tour?

Exhaustion! I had been living the New York City grind for seven years – working the day job and trying to play music as much as I could – but so much of my time was spent just trying to pay the rent and I just felt like I couldn’t do it anymore. I felt like I was treading water creatively and personally.  I wasn’t growing or writing or moving forward in my career.  And I desperately wanted to play music all the time.  But the only way to do that, realistically, was to give up everything that wasn’t necessary. In other words, sell everything, get rid of the apartment, and figure out a way to live on the road.  That’s where the VW Camper van came into the picture and that’s how ‘The Great VW Camper van Tour’ came to be.”

Read the rest of the interview HERE.

Heads Up Texans!

Hey Texas Friends!  Don’t miss the chance to see my friend Bill Chambers, an incredible songwriter + guitarist from Australia, performing @ THE DOWN UNDER DELI and EATERY in Spicewood,Texas (outside of Austin) this coming Friday + Saturday (Oct. 21st + 22nd).

San Francisco + The Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival!

This weekend we had the great pleasure of hanging out in San Francisco.  Not only is the city remarkably beautiful, but it holds a free music festival every year in Golden Gate Park called the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival.  When we realized a few months back that our time in this area would coincide with the festival, we knew we had to go!

The highlight of the festival for me was the Patty Griffin show.  Matt and I found a kind of ‘hidden’ spot behind the stage on a hill and enjoyed a relatively close view of the show, considering there were thousands in the crowd.  Her performance was wonderful.  Patty has this amazing voice that can absolutely soar and also evoke such quiet heartbreak all in the same line.  She’s one of those people whose records I adore, but I never get tired of seeing her live, because she really lives in each song.  For this show, she was backed up by the amazing Buddy Miller and, if that weren’t enough…

…she was joined onstage by Robert friggin’ Plant.  The crowd, as you might imagine, went ballistic.

Here’s a shot from our spot on Saturday waiting for the Gillian Welch show.  As you can see, there are a ridiculous amount of people in the audience.

It was incredible to see these two people, with basically no bells and whistles - just their voices and guitars - hold the attention of all those thousands of people.  It didn’t even make any sense!  But it worked.  When they sang ‘Hard Times’ from their new album, it was magical. 

And here’s a shot of Stinson Beach, where we hung out for a lot of last week.  It’s gonna be hard to leave the California coast line!

And last but not least, we have a show THIS WEDNESDAY in San Fran with the lovely Kate Kilbane.  Please send out your peeps!

Wednesday, Oct. 5th, 7pm
Bazaar Cafe
5927 California Street
San Francisco, CA 

Redwoods, Lost Coast + New Songs…

Last week we had a whole week off in California for exploring and sightseeing and songwriting.  We started out in the Redwood National Park.  It’s one of those places where, despite yourself, you just keep saying things like “Man! Look at the size of that tree!” and “Dude, that tree is ginormous!”  But seriously, Dude, the trees are huge and amazing and 2,000 years old.

After our time in the Redwoods we kept heading south and stopped in a little town called Trinidad for lunch on the beach.  At this point in our journey, we didn’t know exactly where we were going or what we wanted to do.  Matt suggested that we should check out the ‘Lost Coast’ (a section of mainly undeveloped coastline in Northern California), and it turned out to be the highlight of the trip so far. 

The reason it’s called the ‘Lost Coast’ is because the mountains there make it impossible to build a highway through the area.  Our little VW made it up this windy little road that eventually leads you to the most beautiful coast I’ve ever seen.

We stopped for dinner here.  There’s a little plaque on the left side of this picture that talks about the ‘Cape Mendocino Lighthouse’ which was lit in 1868 and burned for almost 100 years.  You could see the light from the lighthouse for 30 miles out to sea.  The plaque was “Dedicated to the Keepers of the Light,” which to me was so obviously the title of a song waiting to be written!

Driving along the ‘Lost Coast’ as the sun quickly sets.  Total artsy self portrait, y’all!! 

So, we’re driving along this little road and we don’t have any idea where we’re going to stay that night.  We’re thinking about parking and discreetly sleeping somewhere in Petrolia (population 300), but as we cruise by the few houses, general store, church and school that make up the whole town it quickly becomes clear that there’s no way that’s gonna happen.  So, we follow a sign that says ‘Mattole Beach’ that takes you down a rough road that just seems to keep on going.  At this point it’s pitch black and out of my window I see a coyote standing on the side of the road and things are starting to feel like the beginning of one of those bad ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’ movies.  But we just keep on going, cause where else are we gonna go, and when we finally get to the beach, there’s a friggin’ campground there!  It came out of nowhere and I was pumped out of my little mind.  We park and get out of the van and there are about one billion stars.  The next morning I wake up, take my coffee and head down to the shoreline to work on songs.  I ended up writing the song inspired from the lighthouse plaque for my Mom, who has always been my ‘Keeper of the Light.’   

After two days on the ‘Lost Coast’ we kept going south and got on Highway 1, which runs right along the coast.  We ended up finding a great campground on this bluff.  This picture captures well the heavy fog that comes in at certain times of the day and then burns away.

On Saturday we made it to Auburn, CA, where we had a house show that night.  Our host’s backyard was perfect and even had this make-shift stage!

Our hosts Josh and Colleen had a ridiculous spread of food and drinks and a great group of friends!  Thanks to our new Auburn friends for a magical night.

Okay, so this isn’t California, but I’m a little behind on this blog and wanted to include this shot from the ‘Goonies’ beach in Oregon.  We watched ‘Goonies’ two days after going to the beach where it was filmed and that movie is still awesome.

And this isn’t California either!  I’m actually going all the way back to Seattle here, where we had a great night at the Gypsy Music Cafe, where we opened for the lovely and talented (and all wearing polka dots!) all girls bluegrass band, The Hillbettys

P.S.  Thanks to the Santucci’s for hosting a great house show in Lebanon, OR and to the Walsh’s for hosting us this weekend!!

One Week in Washington

This past week has been one of the best of the tour.  Last Thursday night we took the ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge Island. 

The ferry runs every hour.  We took it right at sunset.  It’s only a 30 minute ride, it’s cheap and you land on a sweet little island, so I highly recommend it if you find yourself in Seattle! 

We had two shows on Bainbridge Island at Pegasus Coffee.  They had tasty food and drinks and a fun crowd.  

We camped at Fay Bainbridge Park, right on the water.  It was labor day weekend and I couldn’t believe they had open camping spots! 

After our shows at Pegasus, we had three days off and decided to take a trip to the Olympic National Park.  It was ridiculous.  Just gorgeous.  We camped at Kalaloch Campground, which is on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  There were all these crazy looking trees and the quality of light was amazing.

Another impromptu photo shoot shot.

The park has steps right down to the beach. 

All along the beach are ‘beach logs’ that come in from the rivers and are all bleached out. 

Matt looking very ‘West Coast.’

When we were in Chattanooga our friend Tianna gave us a Color Cloud Hammock and we finally got to hang it up and enjoy it!!

The nights were as beautiful as the day time.  The mist made the beach look like the moon. 

Gorgeous Oregon

This past week we got to spend some time in Northeast Oregon.  It was absolutely, ridiculously beautiful.   We had two great shows in the area, one at Terminal Gravity Brewery in Enterprise and one at Calderas in Joseph. 

In Joseph, we got to stay on a farm in a converted 100 year old granary (thank you Nancy!).  While we were there, we were exploring the farm and ended up doing an impromptu photo and music video shoot (for a new song called ‘When the Evening Comes’) in the barn in the picture above.  They had just had a barn dance there, so the lights were still up - It was too perfect to pass up!

Matt hanging out at Wallowa Lake.

A stop on our drive from Joseph to Portland, OR. 

I can’t tell you how excited I am for the next two months.  Thanks to our friends in Boise, Enterprise, Joseph, Portland and Seattle for making the first week of our West Coast tour so friggin’ amazing (especially our friend Sarah in La Grande!). 

West Coast Tour - HOORAY!


We are making our way West and it feels so good! Here’s a picture of me living true in Utah.  I am super friggin’ excited about the next two and a half months and I have two request for you: 

1.  I have never spent any real time on the West Coast and so I’m eager for advice!  Do you have amazing places that you know of that I should visit?  Please email me at kelley[at]kelleymcrae.com

2.  Do you live on the West Coast?  Come see a show!  Do you have friends that live on the West Coast?  Send them to a show!  The dates are below (and will continue to be added to!) and you can find all the details about our shows HERE.

And a huge THANK YOU to everyone who helped us book all these shows!! 

The Great VW Camper Van - LIVE TRUE - Tour!

Aug. 19th - Boise, ID - The District Coffee House
Aug. 20th - Boise, ID - House Show
Aug. 21st - Enterprise, OR - Terminal Gravity Brewery
Aug. 24th - Joseph, OR - Caldera’s
Aug. 25th - Portland, OR - House Show
Aug. 26th - Seattle, WA - House Show
Aug. 27th - Seattle, WA - Laughing Ladies Cafe
Aug. 31st - Langley, BC - House Show
Sept. 2nd - Seattle, WA - Pegasus Coffee House
Sept. 3rd - Seattle, WA - Pegasus Coffee House
Sept. 8th - Tacoma, WA - Mandolin Cafe
Sept. 13th - Portland, WA - Alberta Street Pub
Sept. 10th - Seattle, WA - The Gypsy Cafe
Sept. 15th - Eugene, OR - Luckey’s Bar
Sept. 16th - Hillsboro, OR - Insomnia Coffee Company
Sept. 17th - Lebanon, OR - House Show
Sept. 23rd - Sacramento, CA - House Show
Sept. 24th - Auburn, CA - House Show
Oct. 5th - San Francisco, CA - Bazaar Cafe
Oct. 7th - Oakland, CA - House Show
Oct. 8th - Fresno, CA - House Show
Oct. 15th -  Los Angeles, CA - House Show
Oct. 16th - Corona, CA - House Show
Oct. 18th - San Luis Obispo, CA - Kreuzberg
Oct. 20th - Santa Margarita, CA - The Porch (Guest Spot)
Oct. 21st - Los Angeles, CA - House Show
Oct. 22nd - Los Angeles, CA - House Show
Oct. 23rd - Paso Robles, CA - Sculpterra Winery
Oct. 28th - San Diego, CA - TBD

And it’s not to late to request a HOUSE SHOW! 

Feature on NPR’s ‘The Hidden World of Girls’

I was recently asked to do an interview for the awesome new NPR multimedia series ‘The Hidden World of Girls.’ The series is produced by Davia Nelson & Nikki Silva, aka ‘The Kitchen Sisters,’ and features stories of “coming of age, rituals and rites of passage, secret identities—of women who crossed a line, blazed a trail, or changed the tide.”  Needless to say, I am honored to be a part of this amazing site! 

In addition to the interview, they asked me to talk about ten of my favorite female musicians, for their blog/playlist ‘Girls on Your Turntable.’  My playlist is pretty badass, if I do say so myself!!  I had a blast working on it.  

Check out the interview and listen to my ‘Turntable’ playlist HERE!

And a HUGE thank you to the ‘Kitchen Sister’ writer Patty Fung for making it happen!