Emily Scott Robinson and her husband Rouslan Haracherev fell in love while they were both dirtbagging in Telluride, Colorado. Robinson grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina, and Haracherev spent his childhood in Sofia, Bulgaria, before emigrating to the U.S.
For me, it's an honor and a vote of confidence from the Folk and Americana music communities at an early stage in my career. The Wildflower! Festival and particularly this competition have a strong legacy and reputation for bringing talented, unique, wholehearted musicians to this contest.
Happy Fall, Y’all!
I took September and October off from performing so that I could focus on writing and traveling the country in the RV with my husband. We explored Wyoming, Idaho, Utah and Arizona, and took our time getting lost in the in the turning-gold Aspen groves, climbing mountains and then heading to the desert when the first snow dusted the Rockies. I have a permanent Chaco tan right now and I’ve forgotten how to wear makeup or anything other than yoga pants. I’m sleeping well, cooking nourishing food, writing most days, and working on a whole bunch of new songs!
I’m also meditating on what I want this next phase of my life to hold for me. I’m setting clear, heartfelt intentions and practicing gratitude and wonder and presence. I’m the healthiest and happiest I’ve ever been since quitting the last vestiges of my "day job" in April. I could not have imagined then how much beauty was waiting for me in the unknown. I am deeply happy.
I have a ton of exciting things coming up, but one big announcement I want to make is that we are moving to Austin, Texas for the winter!
Rous and I are really excited and ready to put down roots for 5 months in one place. Austin has a wonderfully supportive and creative community where I'll continue to grow my music career. Rous plans to work in the climbing industry over the winter, and we'll be right at home with lots of other "Snowbirds" in our RV!
And speaking of Texas, I'm going on tour with my fellow Kerrville New Folk Winners next month! We are playing in-the-round shows at some fabulous, intimate venues in the cities listed above and would love if you would join us at Uncle Calvin's in Dallas, Blue Rock in Wimberley Sam's Burger Joint in San Antonio, or at Fischer Fest! We are also headed to the Southeast in December and playing shows at the Blue Plate Special in Knoxville, the Red Clay Theater in Duluth, and the Old School Theater in Mississippi! Stayed tuned for a few more dates in the Southeast (I'm winking at you, Nashville.)
In the frigid month of February, I'm going on tour with my dear friend Caroline Cotter! We will be playing shows and warming cold winter hearts in such lovely spots as The Depot in Norman, Oklahoma and Opening Bell in Dallas, as well as playing house concerts throughout the region. All the shows are listed HERE! Don't see your hometown or favorite venue on the list? Drop me a line HERE and let me know where you want to see us! We are still booking.
Life in the RV is pretty swell. It's such a good fit for us, in fact, that we are already planning at least 1-2 more years of being full-timers! Rous and I are dreaming up another big loop of the West next summer and can't wait to spend time in the Pacific Northwest and California, exploring and playing shows there! But for all the dear friends and family of mine back in the Southeast, worry not! I'll be home for Christmas and playing a show at Muddy Creek Music Hall on December 29th! I also have a Southeastern tour in the works for next March.
On a contemplative note, I've been reading a lot this fall. I used to devour books when I was a young girl, but I thought my heavy reading requirements in high school and college had all but killed my love for it. But no... I believe that all things that feel dead in our lives and spirit can grow again with time, space and healing.
That's how I found myself burning through my personal library during these past two months. Pictured above is "All The Light We Cannot See," which was so beautiful and devastating that I cried when it was over. Then I mailed it to my Grandma, who loves books even more than I do.
I also read "Tiny Beautiful Things" again. This copy of mine is dog-eared and well-loved. I underline parts that speak to me. This time, I underlined part of Dear Sugar's letter to a young writer who is struggling with jealousy over her other, more "successful" writer friends:
"A lot of artists give up because it's just too damn hard to go on making art in a culture that by and large does not support its artists. But the people who don't give up are the people who find a way to believe in abundance rather than scarcity. They've taken into their hearts the idea that there is enough for all of us, that success will manifest itself in different ways for different sorts of artists, that keeping the faith is more important than cashing the check, and that being genuinely happy for someone else who got something you hope to get makes you genuinely happier too."
That's what I choose to meditate on this season: abundance, faith, support and gratitude. I'm going to put all my eggs in that basket.
This morning, with the sun streaming in on my yoga mat, I lie flat on my back with one leg stretched over the other. The muscles deep in my hips and thighs are talking to me:
"Oh, that’s tight ... Wow ... OK, this is intense. Oh, God … I think that’s enough stretching. No, really! FUCK … This is torture!”
If you’ve ever stretched your quads and IT band, I know you understand. The voice gets louder and louder until all I can hear is a rising string of curse words. I feel my muscles aching and firing, tensing and releasing. I’m breathing like a rag doll, the mantra of “DEAR GOD, GET ME OUT OF THIS ALIVE” on my lips. Holy shit.
This is Yin Yoga. You think you’re going to do some deep, restorative yoga stretches to the sound of wind chimes and ocean waves. But what you’ll actually do is find the deepest tension in your body and apply love, breath and time into coaxing those tight places into release.
Yin Yoga is deeply therapeutic, but also the hardest work I’ve ever done. I usually skip it in favor of something … easier.
This hellishly beautiful pose (pictured above by some Hotshot Yoga Model Who Makes It Look Easy) brings me to tears. I am in it for five minutes on each side. THE LONGEST FIVE MINUTES OF MY LIFE.
Halfway through the second side, I start laughing. Belly laughing. “Oh, God! OK, I GET IT, Universe. The yoga is mirroring my life right now. THIS IS VERY FUNNY.” Here I am in the most challenging pose of my life, and I’m desperate to get through it as quickly and painlessly as possible. But I can’t. The whole POINT of the pose is just to BE here and not run away.
About a month ago, I was driving at night on the interstate and hit a deer that wandered into the right lane. The deer did not fare well, and my car didn’t come out much better. Since then, I've been in what could generously be described as a “clusterfuck" with our car insurance, tow companies, estimators and multiple repair shops.
Every new solution we find turns into a dead end. Every deadline gets pushed back to a later date. Every estimate we get is inflated in order to game the insurance system. It all feels so sleazy and difficult, and all I can think is, “WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME?"
On a spiritual level, I believe that every challenge in my life appears for a reason— somewhere within each obstacle lies a lesson that my soul wants to learn. When I feel resistance like this, I try to meditate, sort through my emotions and gain clarity on how to move forward. It’s not very graceful. It’s hard work, and I have to be willing to see my own part in the messes I make.
When this first happened I was like, “Damn, Higher Power. I SO did not deserve this.” And Higher Power said, “Well, neither did that deer you killed.” Touché.
Shit happens … to everybody. The real test is how we respond to it.
This test in particular has brought out a whole cast of characters in me — the Control Freak, the Bossy Bitch, the Nice Girl, the Zen Goddess and the Whiny Baby all are working their angles, while I sit here wondering:
“WHAT on earth am I in this mess to learn? Because I want to learn it — fast — and get the hell out of here.”
This is why I think Yin Yoga is good for me. I don’t get to escape. I can't run away or get through it quickly, because I’d be cheating myself of all the deep healing and release that my body needs. Maybe this car accident is my soul’s version of Yin Yoga, and what I’m releasing is actually … control.
In the meantime, there are a lot of great things happening despite the car fiasco. I have endless time to write, which is my Number One Goal for this month.
Our friends with beautiful homes have invited us to sleep in their well-appointed guest rooms, do our laundry, cook in their giant kitchens, play with their sweet dogs, eat their chocolate and binge-watch Stranger Things on Netflix.
There’s more. I could make a long list of all the sweet provision and kindness we receive every day. Positive Emily is just BURSTING with all these reasons why I should count my blessings and look at this car accident in a different light. She can be really chirpy and annoying, though.
Sometimes, Positive Emily just doesn’t REACH me where I really am, because letting go of control hurts. It aches. I’m flailing and cursing and blaming everything on the planets and self-medicating with ice cream bars.
I’m also taking a 3-month sober period right now for creative and health reasons, so someone give me a gold medal because I haven’t had a sip of wine through any of this. It’s good for me — there is no way to numb or check out from the process.
A new radiator, hood, compressor, fan, bumper and paint job will put our Toyota back on the road. By the time that actually happens, I may have achieved a new level of enlightenment.
Yours truly in all the mess,
Everywhere we go this summer— from Bulgaria to Tennessee, and Texas to Colorado— one theme is constant in our travels:
Surely grace and kindness went ahead of us on the road this summer, preparing our way.
Our trip began in late May.
We flew home from Bulgaria and, the next morning, we started a thousand-mile trek down to Texas for the Kerrville Folk Festival. I found out in April that I was a finalist in the New Folk Competition, a thrilling way to kick off the summer! Crunched for time and beyond jet lag, we pointed south, driving through flash floods, hail and Louisiana heat in a brand-new RV, scared shitless we might crash and burn.
Call it our initiation. (One we are not eager to repeat.)
Frazzled when we pulled into Kerrville 48 hours later, our next-door neighbors at camp greeted us with an offering of cold beers (God BLESS them), and every stranger we met offered up a warm smile and a “Welcome home." Cultish? A little. But endearing. Kerrville is its own little family, and they pulled me into the fold.
Coming to Kerrville as a New Folk contestant was a revelation. Radical hospitality was the unwritten rule of this festival. The Rouse House Camp hosted all 32 of the New Folk contestants at Kerrville— offering tents and sleeping bags, cooking breakfast, keeping coolers stocked with cold drinks and snacks, and hosting song circles. They pointed us to the nearest river on a hot day. They jumped our RV battery when we killed it. They made this place home for us.
Also, I won the competition, along with five fabulous humans (pictured here)!
After Kerrville, we took our RV into the shop to get a pesky “Service Engine Soon” light diagnosed. Turns out our fuel pump, A VERY IMPORTANT THING, was ... technically-speaking ... kaput. (I just had to look up how to spell "kaput," by the way.)
Luckily, we had purchased an Extended Warranty on our rig, which covered the repairs, but it took 3 weeks, 20 hours of labor, 100 phone calls, voodoo, goat sacrifices and witchcraft to get everything fixed.
In the meantime, we packed our bags and went on a giant hospitality tour of Texas with a sign around our necks that said:
“Gypsies — Temporarily Kinda Homeless — Will Sing for Food/Beer/Bed.”
This led us to a friend's ranch in Boerne, Texas, where we drank Glenlivet 18 and befriended a longhorn by the name of Waylon.
Our next stop: Blue Rock Artist Ranch, where we swam in a pool overlooking the hill country and I wrote songs surrounded by leather, vinyl and chocolate chip cookies.
The road then took us to Houston, where a friend's mother cooked two different quiches for breakfast so that we could have choices. It took us to Austin, where I met a musical community I fell right into like family.
Turned out there was a silver lining to that busted fuel pump. We had to depend on others to take care of us … and they DID. They showered us with food, space, love, kindness and songs.
Here's the message I’m receiving these days -- those who offer hospitality will receive it in return, tenfold. I think this is a Law of the Universe, so true that I'll even capitalize it. The Law of Hospitality is spiritual physics.
Confession: I can be tight-fisted and selfish, especially when I feel stressed out. When I believe there's not enough to go around, I hang on with white knuckles to my space and time and money.
But I’ve met all kinds of people this summer who live rich lives and give so much away.
I want to be like that. I'm trying to be more like that every day -- to be in a sweet, trusting dance with the Universe.
Asking makes us vulnerable. Receiving makes us vulnerable. It can be tough. I often feel that I owe something in return. Maybe that’s what drives me to write so many thank-you notes. (That, and my mom’s sensible voice in my head.)
But I think this is the dance we are called to do. To ask ourselves and each other what we really need, and to open our hearts and our hands both to give and receive.
I wish boatloads of love, magic, and delight to you and yours,
We moved into our new (to us) rig! On April 11, we bought a 2003 Damon Challenger down in Chatsworth, Georgia, from a family who had it sitting in their barn, beautifully cared-for, but unused. We're thrilled to get this baby back out on the road!
Cue: huge sigh of relief. Although we started looking at RVs about six months ago, things got really serious in March. We knew we needed to find a motorhome before May, to give us time to fix her up and move in before hitting the road this month. We found the Challenger just in time!
If you ever want to hear our WHOLE story about shopping for RVs, just buy us a few beers and we'll drop all our hard-earned wisdom on you. But to summarize, here's a little guide:
TOP 10 HOOPS YOU HAVE TO JUMP THROUGH TO BUY AND MOVE INTO AN RV:
1) Spend at least four hours a day scouring Craigslist.
2) Visit several RV dealers, look at rigs in your budget, then behold all the problems they have! Mold, rotting, leaky roofs, missing batteries, flooding, high mileage and salvage titles. Eeek!
3) Realize that you can't possibly get what you want for the price you want to pay. After much debate with spouse, increase budget by 20 percent.
4) Scramble to save additional money for RV budget. Stop eating out and go on a new cleanse I call the "Lentils + Rice + Whatever Else is in Your Fridge" diet.
5) Avoid sellers who live 10 states away, are unloading a rig for a price that's WAY too good to be true and want you to wire them money as a "deposit." (So many scammers out there!)
6) Pray, chant, visualize your new RV, burn sage, and cross your fingers. Repeat daily. Avoid retrograding planets.
7) Get an inspector to check out every aspect of your rig before purchase and negotiate your price! The Challenger needed six new tires, so we got the price lowered by $2k.
8) CLEAN HOUSE! Give away half your clothes, sell your furniture, pack up your fancy wine glasses and your heavy book collection. Rent storage unit. Laugh about how your 5x10 storage unit is WAY too big-- you only have a few boxes and a TV! Proceed to fill storage unit completely and eat crow.
9) Consume a strict diet of burritos and coffee for 2 weeks during moving process. Forget what it's like to shave your legs, wear makeup, eat or sleep or exercise on a regular schedule, or have a social life.
10) QUIT YOUR JOBS, close the door on your old life, and answer the call of the open road!
First stop: Kerrville Folk Festival! I'm honored to be a finalist in the New Folk Competition over Memorial Day Weekend. I'll be playing and camping with 31 other songwriters in the Texas Hill Country and I can't wait! See you soon, future Kerrville family!
Lots of love,
Emily (and her co-pilot, Rous)
Good morning, world! It's Saturday.
This morning, I sent Rous off to go climbing with his buddies. I stayed home for a writing day, which usually means me drinking 5 cups of coffee on my couch while wearing yoga pants.
Since I was already wearing yoga pants, I figured I would do a little bit of yoga. A tee-tiny bit. Just to remember that I live here inside this skin.
I open my laptop and pull up my favorite yoga channel, Yoga with Adriene. I like Adriene because she's not fake-enlightened. Sometimes she accidentally says "fuck" during her videos, which confirms that she is someone I would like to hang out with.
Lately, she's been putting a meditation question at the beginning of her yoga videos. Today's question is:
"What do you want to attract?"
The word "riches" floats up to the top of my mind. I push it back down. I hear this inner voice scolding me, saying "Don't be greedy."
It's funny how powerful that voice is. I've been raised to think that praying for money is a greedy thing to do. Plus, everyone knows that musicians are starving artists, right?
The Story of the Starving Artist
I grew up believing that artists had to starve for their work and battle to make a living.
I thought that being a musician meant living in an overpriced apartment in [Boston/New York/Austin/Nashville], playing open mic nights and working doubles in a restaurant, giving away your demos to anyone who would listen to them, driving around in a beat-up old Toyota station wagon and voting Democrat and eating vegetarian and sleeping on people's couches and writing tortured songs about "the road."
I listened to Ani DiFranco's Righteous Babe rants about record labels. I noted that many of my female folk idols wrote really sad songs about being lonely and unmarried.
None of this seemed promising. I didn't feel brave enough to endure that kind of life.
The Story of the Starving Artist was buried so deep in my psyche that I never even considered going down that road.
Instead, I went to college and got a wonderful liberal arts degree. I worked as an Americorps volunteer with the homeless. I moved to El Salvador and studied theology and volunteered with an NGO and became fluent in Spanish.
I worked as an advocate for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in Colorado. Then as a Medical Spanish Interpreter at a hospital. Along the way, I got sunburned as a lifeguard and refilled glasses of sweet tea as a waitress.
I did everything except pursue music.
When I was 25 and BURNED OUT as a social worker, I took a week off to go to a songwriting camp in Lyons, Colorado. I took the trip on a whim, and it changed me.
I came back ALIVE again. I started writing and uncovering a creative energy that had been buried under years of classical training and cover songs.
My husband told me I was glowing. He said "Keep doing this," and meant it.
I gushed about this songwriting retreat to my spiritual teacher/therapist while simultaneously venting about my "real" job. My teacher listened patiently, and when I was done talking, he said:
"Listen-- Our lives are so short. We don't have any time to waste.
So tell me, dear, why did you come to Earth in this lifetime?
What is your purpose here?"
I've spent some time-- the past 3 years-- figuring out the answer to that question.
I've been working part-time at a day job and playing music on nights off. I've been writing, booking my own gigs, asking questions and learning from friends and teachers who've been traveling this road for awhile now...
So, here I am, 6 weeks out from quitting my day job and taking a leap.
Rous and I are buying a Class A mobile home RV, moving into it, and I'm going to play music full-time.
We're going on tour for as long as we want, heading West this summer, and bringing our sweet doggie Molly along for the ride.
We're chasing his dream, too, of being the strongest rock climber he can be.
This is a leap we're taking together.
The other day, I was telling a friend about our plans and I caught myself saying, "I know we won't make any money doing this, but...."
Haha... WELL, there's that Starving Artist story again. It pops right up in conversation. I don't want to sound like we're dreaming TOO big, so I cut our dreams down to a more realistic size. I speak scarcity, fear and failure right into them.
But I don't think that old story serves me anymore. It's time for a new one.
I've been meditating on and praying about this, trying to bring intention and faith into the way I tell this story.
What if I change my language and expectations and see what kind of sweet provision unfolds before me?
What if I ask for what I need... and actually get it?
So here's the the new story I'm telling:
"I'm jumping into a full-time music career with my whole heart. I am abundantly blessed with everything I need along the way."