Growing our musical business- Coyote Grace interview

               Coyote Grace photo: by Libby Bulloff 2011 (c)

We often get so focused on what is in front of us, we don’t stop to savor the successes that have occurred along the way. I wanted to check in with musical friends and former clients Coyote Grace to share in their own words what tips and  secrets they use to support  their  growing musical business:
Key to Interview:
TE: Tamra Engle
CG: Coyote Grace
MTC=Michael Connolly

TE: Your music offers listeners the roots of down home Americana with a bit of a twist. To listeners who have never heard of CG how do you describe your musical style:

ING: This question is probably every artist’s least favorite question, but I’ll try to have fun answering it:  Imagine Gillian Welch and James Taylor have a one-night stand. Then, the unplanned kid is adopted by Indigo Girls, has crazy cat-lady Joni Mitchell for a nanny, and grows up playing with the neighbor kids, Nickel Creek. Eventually, it falls in love and runs away to elope genderbendy heart-throb, Girlyman.  That bastard lovechild is Coyote Grace.

TE: Are there any  “little known secrets” about the CG family that folks might not know that you don’t mind sharing?

ING: We started as a sweet heart duo. A lot of our fan base may not be hip to the fact that we are no longer romantically involved, but the chemistry and history is still there. We are still best of friends and family to each other. Another little known fact is that our great friend and long time musical collaborator Michael Connolly has been in the wings and behind the scenes since the band’s beginnings. A man of many talents, we are honored to have him as a full time band member now (and in on this interview as well!).

TE: You began your career as buskers in Pike Place Market in Seattle in 2004, and recently you completed tours with the Indigo Girls and Girlyman. What unexpected lessons did you learn from working with these bands that have helped you develop your creative business?
ING: Touring with the Indigo Girls and Girlyman has given us the opportunity to attune our stage show for bigger venues and larger crowds -  from longer more involved sound checks to appealing to a crowd of hundreds as opposed to a packed pub.

Joe: Also, we’ve learned to not make fun of the sounds guys.  They are      god.

MTC:  Lessons of the road: It’s hard to keep up with a van driver that sleeps all day and drives all night. We are our own roadies.

TE: I understand you broke record sales for a opening band touring with the Indigo Girls?  Congratulations! Were you prepared for the increased demand of your merch inventory?  If not how did you handle it?

ING: We had reinforcements in the inventory department at home - aka MOM and DAD.
Joe: One time, we ran out of credit card slips and went to a Home depot to see if they had any on hand. That huge corporate store didn’t have any, but the hot dog vendor guy outside did.
MTC: It was his last day working there, so he freely gave them to us. Even though they were covered in hot dog grease, we were happy to take them.

TE: It is a really tough time economically & personally for artists establishing and growing their music business- Have you have to change how you do things as a result of the economic climate?

JOE:  Not really. The biggest impact we’ve seen at our level of the music industry is that quite a few of the venues in our circuit are closing. We’ve been able to find shows elsewhere, but it’s sad to see these sweet places go.

TE: What is the most important lesson you have learned about building the CG music business that prepared you for touring with larger touring acts.

ING:  Showing up is half the battle. Just keeping at it when others started to give up life on the road has seriously contributed to our success.

MTC: In 2008, we played a single show opening Indigo Girls in Seattle, and after that, we didn’t know what the next step would be. Two years later, Amy & Emily asked us to do a string of 3 tours with them all over the country, which was a slow but natural progression from playing that first show with them.

JOE :  But during that 2-year gap, we just kept doing what we do - playing shows, increasing our fan base in different cities and writing new songs till the right opportunity presented itself. They knew we were still out there and the buzz about us was growing in lots of grassroots communities.

TE: It seems like you are always on the road touring nationally.
Keeping balance in relationships  & routines is pretty hard when your on the road. Do you have tricks that you use to help you stay healthy and centered day to day?

Joe : Emergen-C emergen-C emergen-C  and try to get enough sleep!

ING: Small routines, no matter how trivial they are, help provide a sense of familiarity when you wake up in a different place every day. I bring my loose leaf tea and travel mug. And the nightstand beside whatever random bed I’m sleeping in looks exactly the same each night.

Joe: Yeah, I bring my house slippers on tour.

MTC: Knowing coffee will happen in the morning keeps me from feeling homesick.

ING: We also try and make sure our tours are no longer than 2 weeks because we really value home time and having a balance between home and tour.

TE:  Thank you for sharing your tips for growing your creative musical business.
Readers, we would love to hear what tips and tricks do you use to help you keep balance in your relationships and routines in the comment section below.

LINK: to video of green room jam w/ Indigo Girls

Picture Coyote Grace –4 © 2011 by Libby Bulloff.

LINK: to video of green room jam w/ Indigo Girls
Picture Coyote Grace –4 © 2011 by Libby Bulloff.
Video & Link used by permission Coyote Grace 2011

Help another artist

I have been talking alot about gift giving,  

One of the gifts that each of us have, that is taken for granted is our lives, and our health. 
 You certainly cannot put a price tag on something so precious and so fleeting. 

  Most days, I feel like we get so caught up in rushing here and there, that we forget the importance of what is right in front of us until it is threatened, or suddenly, like a rug ripped away from us.  
During my lifetime,  I have lost a brother a sister and my mother, and just a few months ago our beloved 12 yr old dog and cat.   Not a day goes by that I don't think about  each of them;  I couldn't begin to put a price tag on what their presence had meant  to me.  

So what does this have to do with helping your artistic business??

I don't know if any readers realize that being a musician you are self employed, and your earnings; unless you are a well established act, are often really just pennies from shows, cd sales.
 Most artist have so little money that like many American’s,  they can't afford things like health insurance.
If  you are a touring artist and in a accident, or crack a tooth on that fast food burger you got after the show, your in a strange town or country and left to pay cash out of pocket.
What if  you are suddenly diagnosed with a  catastrophic illness, and physically cannot work ? 
Suddenly you are worried about financial ruin instead of the important business of healing.

It broke my heart to get a email last week from a client who had been  on tour with a favorite band of mine Girlyman.

I am going to leave you with the direct note from their website to fill you in on the details,  If you love music, 
I implore everyone that reads this blog to please donate any amount you can. 
THEN, please forward this blog to your friends.  If you have a faith, ask your guiding spirit to shine a little light on a sweet dear person in need.

If you are a artist looking for medical coverage contact your Performing Rights Organization or P.R.O. (ASCAP, BMI or SESAC) any of their websites  each offer "discounted" health care for musicians.

   I wish you all blessings of good health, and balance,

As some of you already know, last week Doris was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia. Fortunately, due to great advances over the past decade, CML is now a very treatable form of leukemia, with high survival rates (95+%). Doris is currently at Emory University Hospital and will be working with both eastern and western healing modalities. She's holding up well, coping with the symptoms of the first phase of treatment, but is still understandably in shock. We all are, but we are lucky to have a tight-knit community that is pulling together to help. The doctors have said that in time she'll probably be able to return to an active Girlyman-esque lifestyle, but we can't risk bringing her out on the road so soon, and have cancelled our December midwest tour. Right now Doris needs close medical attention and lots of rest.

The four of us have every intention of continuing on as Girlyman, playing tours, writing songs, and making CDs. That said, we don't know what this change will mean in the long term. Without the December tour, Doris will have two full months to rest and to allow her treatment to start working. For now, we're still planning to tour the west coast in late January as scheduled.

Many of you have asked about how to support Doris and the band during this critical time. We can't tell you how much we appreciate your love and concern. Your healing thoughts, prayers and visualizations have lifted us - they've been the best possible medicine for us all. If you'd like to send a personal note to Doris, you can write to and we'll make sure it gets to her. We'll also be posting updates about Doris on our Facebook page and at

For those who would like to support us financially, please click here.

Again, our deepest thanks. We're so grateful for the opportunity to bring music into this world, and to share it with such a special, intimate family of fans.

With gratitude,
Doris, Nate, Ty, JJ




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