I think everyone has a least favorite job. Mine would be going to our warehouse.
This is where we keep all of the set pieces, Christmas trees, lighting, sound gear, tree decorations, crosses, Twelve Days of Christmas costumes for the kids, my traveling piano case (it's huge), all of the previously worn band and orchestra costumes and my gowns.
And my music.
When we tour, we always load and unload from the warehouse. It's my least favorite job because we share the space with other tenants and it's dusty, dark and cold inside, and unorganized because it's not just our space. There's nothing pretty about it. Concrete floors. And it always involves heavy lifting, moving, stacking and finding a spot to put things. I do not go to the warehouse unless I absolutely have to.
In March when we got home from our 22-city "Sunshine Tour," we made our regular pit stop to off-load everything from the truck back into this space. (I was so excited. NOT!). But at least we were pulling up during normal day hours. (Typically after the last Christmas show in LaCrosse, we end up off-loading until 2:00 in the morning.)
This time I saw things differently. And simply felt overwhelmed.
All I could see were boxes and boxes (and boxes) of my music. It was a reality that just hit me hard that day. I have sooo much music. I could tour until I was 100 years old, and never be able to sell all of this. It's a shame. All this music is paid for (and has been for years). All my hard work is just sitting here in boxes. What should I do?
I told Tim "we should just give it all away." And then, it came to me. OK, I will practically give it away. Discount it so that people can't resist. Make it affordable so that anyone who wants to play Lorie Line music has the opportunity to do so.
Tim suggested that I run sales and change it up quickly, so that no one would get bored. BAM! Three days and it's a new promotion. Get the fans excited. Make them wonder what's next.
Seeing all of this music in the warehouse, I wanted to take it home. Tim thought there'd be no way to find room to store it, but I convinced him that we should try. It was just so much that we had to really think about reorganizing our own small warehouse space underneath our garage. But both Tim and I were inspired. A new project. And we had no plans until Mother's Day (The Living Room Series). So we had some time. And then this happened.
Three days later the virus hit. Everyone was in lockdown mode all across the country.
And a new theme just popped into my head.
STAY HOME AND PLAY THE PIANO.
And so it began. We sorted and threw out overstocked CD artwork (tens of thousands of inserts . . . I wanted to cry), and made room for all the good stuff to sell. I've never seen Tim so addicted to such a task, but he got up every day and made a trip down the road to get more boxes of music. All of which he brought home to our newly organized personal space.
I made a list of all of the promotions I would put out to my fans. And took a breath when I first saw me write down $15 for a music book. $5 for a CD. We were doing it.
We were going to make lemonade out of lemons.
Twice a week I hopped out of bed at 6:30AM and went down to my computer to e-blast all my fans (all of you) the next latest greatest Lorie Line sale of the century. Many days I filled over 100 individual orders. It did me good to see all of my music going back out that door, back into my trunk and off to the post office to a new home . . . someone who loved playing and listening to Lorie Line. Honestly, it's been a long time since I've had so much fun.
I want to thank all of you for supporting me over the past few months. Thank you, thank you. I know that many of you have been thinking of me and praying for me during these trying times. I want you all to know that we are doing well.
When the great recession came about in 2008, and then the music business crashed in 2012, I promised God I would be a better steward of all that He gave me.
We are now planning the upcoming Christmas tour. Many of the venues that we travel to have different (and complex) restrictions, so I have decided to go out on my own (with a special featured vocalist) for my first solo piano Christmas tour. I've been feeling it's time to reinvent myself again so I am really excited about this. Another chance to make lemonade.
The photo above - Tim made dozens of trips to get all the music home. (I still think I need a little black truck, don't you think?)
Three photos below - I couldn't get all of the music in this shot, but this will give you an idea of where we started (one wall - there were three).
I'm sharing a picture of the newly organized space underneath our garage. And a picture of the entrance into that space.
I now go to my own music warehouse every day, first thing in the morning. It's warm, it's clean, it's organized. And it even has its own chandelier. Gotta love it.
I got a late start.
Most people just assume I started touring in my early 20s, fresh out of college. But that's not the way it happened for me.
And I'm so glad.
I was 31 years old when I went out on my very first tour. I had been working at Dayton's for a year, and we decided to travel to a couple of cities and share my holiday music from the stage. We had pockets of fans around the midwest (I had started a data base), so we gathered up a couple of musicians, and drove in cars together for our first appearance in a few nearby towns.
For the next four years while I was at Dayton's (1988-1993), I'd take a little time off from playing in the store and Tim would take vacation days from Josten's (where he was employed full time). We added a few cities each year to the tour schedule. Little did we know that something so small would become so big.
Two years into it and Tim quit his job (his very good job that supported us . . . and moved us to Minnesota) and he became my tour manager. Overnight we became entrepreneurs with no regular income or paycheck, and boy, were we scared. But early on we decided we would stick together. (I wasn't going to go on the road by myself.) So Tim immediately had a big job in our little company and we went together on every tour. Sometimes it was painful because we had to leave our kids with someone to care for them.
As I mentioned, I'm glad that I got a late start. It was meant to be, a God thing. Had I started earlier, I wouldn't have been ready (or mature enough) and I know now that I probably would have made some very poor decisions. The first bad decision would have been to sign with a label. It was trendy, the "thing" to do, and there were some very popular labels signing artists like me, specifically Windham Hill, Narada, and Sony, to name a few. I had offers from all three, but now well into my 30s, something just didn't feel quite right. (The Holy Spirit was speaking to me . . . and at that time in my life I didn't understand or know the Holy Spirit.) Tim and I made several trips to meet Presidents and Vice Presidents of labels, and one time we ended up in New York City. It was our very first visit and the romance of the city almost persuaded us to sign with Sony that week. But for some reason, we didn't.
Had I signed, I would have been so locked up . . . for years. Disputes, legal arrangements, who gets what, and where I'd go on tour would have all been debatable. (And I probably wouldn't have met you, my fans.) But being my own boss, I was allowed the freedom to go where I wanted, play the music I wanted to play, hire the musicians I loved, and work with Tim (who says I'm unmanageable when people ask him "are you her manager?") We kept it all. One hundred percent. And now, when I look back, I am so glad we made some very good decisions in the early days of my career. It was the secret to our success.
Of course we made some bad decisions too. There are so many things today I would have done differently. Because now I'm in my 60s. But it's all about learning, growing, changing, adapting, recovering, forgiving (both myself and others) . . . all the while being so thankful how far I've come and where I am today.
Yes, each year of touring has been different, challenging in its own way. I estimate that I've traveled over 300,000 miles. And I have lived about 5 years of my life (in the last thirty years) on a tour bus (or in the front cab of a truck). Today I can say that being on the road has truly built character. With each mile, I feel like I have become closer to God. I've traveled a lot of miles. So I'm starting to figure it out.
My new original song for this year's recording is called Holy Is His Name. My favorite character in the Christmas story has always been Mary. In Luke (chapter one), Luke tells the great story of how Mary went to see Elizabeth, her cousin, when she was pregnant. When she arrives, Elizabeth, who is also pregnant with John, adores her and their conversation is simply precious. Elizabeth celebrates her and calls her blessed and then she says, "and how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to (visit) me?" Mary praises and exalts the Lord and says "for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is His name."
This is how I feel . . . of course, and certainly my calling has been on a much smaller scale, but . . . how is it that it happened to me, that I might be chosen to share the magnificient story of the Mighty One each and every year with adoring fans, for thirty consecutive years! For the Mighty One has done great things for me.
Holy is His name.
Since I first started touring, each and every year fans have asked me, "how long will you do this?" I have always had the exact same answer. Every year I say the same thing.
Ten more years.
Yes, I have said that now for thirty years. And I will say it once again, and for the next ten years.
Because . . . you see, I believe the best is yet to come.
So . . . I'll see you next year. And you can know that I'm so looking forward to it.
All my love,
The photo at the top was taken three years ago as I went out on my very first solo piano tour (2016). No band. Just me, all by myself. Tim and I put my piano in the back of this Penske truck and drove to Nashville and boarded a tour bus. We then pulled a trailer with my piano in it. Today I love touring solo and I spend many hours in the middle seat in the cab of a truck.
The above photo was taken in my dressing room at Orchestra Hall in probably 1991 (28 years ago). I was 33 years old at the time and I believe my mom introduced me that night. The girls at the cosmetic counter at Dayton's helped me with my makeup (and eventually talked me into growing out my hair and "glamming up.") I purchased the dress from Dayton's Oval Room with my 20% discount. The next year I returned and my very good friend and next door neighbor Cindy Hillger (news anchor at WCCO at the time) introduced me. I have very fond memories specifically of these two years.
Last year on my summer solo piano tour I went to Fairbault, Minnesota. (If you read my blogs, that was the day we met Leo.) A lot happened in Fairbault that day, I guess. And some things I didn't even know about until much later.
That night was memorable for me. The audience was just great. It's a small theatre, so the energy goes straight to the stage, which I love. Everyone laughed at my stories. I played well. And we worked particularly hard that day getting the piano in and out of the truck. (It actually was the most exhausting day on the tour . . . but the most rewarding.)
After the show, apparently there was an older gentleman who came up to Tim and casually talked with him. This happens night after night, and Tim is very good about making everyone feel welcome. He engages in all kinds of conversations. He's the kind of guy who will remember your name . . . city to city . . . night after night . . . year after year.
I'll let you in on a little secret.
He writes things down. In his city file (that he takes with him on every tour), he makes notes about all of you, the fans. That way, when he sees you the next time, he is truly engaging, follows up on the last conversation, calls you by name, asks about the kids. He has a knack for it and I'm proud to say that my fans love him as much (or more) than me.
Back to my story . . . and what happened that night. (And Tim did not tell me about all of this until months later when we were on the holiday tour.)
It was a simple question.
"Does Lorie play for funerals or memorial services?"
Tim was a little taken back, but laughed and said, "yes . . . Lorie plays for everyone and everything."
That was it. (And as Tim later recalled meeting this guy, he said he did not look sick.)
They talked and laughed some more.
As he walked off, Tim yelled "she'll be there!"
Six months later, we were on the tour bus doing the holiday show. It was a typical early morning where we were up front in the lounge of the bus, having coffee, balancing our tour account and checking our emails and voice mails. Tim looked at me and said, "he died." I said, "who died?" He said, "that nice gentleman that came up to me at the Fairbault show."
I told Tim I had no idea what or who he was talking about.
And that's when he replayed the night and shared the wonderful story of Walter Lee Harmer.
Walter Lee Harmer was a huge super fan. He was a brilliant research chemist and physicist (who believed in God) and had followed me for years. He loved the piano and he loved me.
Walter had passed away. His son Rich emailed Tim that morning and wanted me to come and play his funeral. Unfortunately, I was on a tour, and it wasn't going to happen. Being self-employed entrepreneurs, we are realists and neither Tim nor I ever thought we'd hear from the Harmer family again. You know how it is . . . time passes by, life goes on.
But sure enough, when we got home, Rich contacted us again. They had held Walter's funeral in Minnesota, but he also had an Arizona winter home and Arizona friends, and they wanted me to come to Tucson to play for his memorial service.
What? Arizona in January? We'd love to come.
This would mean airline flights, a hotel, a rental car, and bringing in a nice piano for an hour service. Is this truly happening? Yes. We were going.
We went to the community where Walter lived during the winter months, and drove up to the gates where a guard opened them and let us in.
We were at a trailer park. There was a huge sign that said VOTED BEST IN THE NATION. I'd never been anywhere like this before.
We went to the recreation room, and there was a beautiful grand piano waiting for me. We were early, but the family was all there. They introduced themselves and Walter's daughter said, "we knew you'd come."
"How did you know I would come? Was Walter sick? Did he tell you about me in his dying days?" What the heck.
Walter was not sick. No one expected him to die. He didn't have cancer. Or heart disease. There was no sign of this day coming. He had had an unexpected stroke. And died shortly thereafter.
Once again I asked how they knew about me.
"How did you know Walter wanted me here? Did he tell someone?"
He simply left a note on his refrigerator.
Have Lorie Line play my memorial service when I die.
I've thought about this a lot. Because if he wasn't sick, that note must have been on his refrigerator a long, long time.
Life once again took me down another road we would have never traveled on if I didn't play the piano.
And I'm so glad I do.
The top photo was taken at the Voyager RV Resort in Tucson, Arizona. It is an unbelievable place and we met some of the nicest people ever. Some random people walked by and we asked them to take this photo of us. They just so happened to be from Minnesota.
I guess the idea started to come to me two years ago. It was the famous audience request “medley” that did it.
There was a new request in the air. Every night it was Bohemian Rhapsody. Sure, I’d played rock songs for years . . . specifically Free Bird and Stairway To Heaven for all the rocker dudes in my crowd (and at Dayton’s). But Bohemian Rhapsody was the newest and hottest request.
For a whole year I wrote down that request on my medley pad of paper, but ignored it, thinking it wasn’t even possible to play (I guess I should say play it WELL). Everyone in the audience would laugh when the song got shouted out. Obviously, they were thinking the same thing. Ha! Ha! Ha!
This happened night after night in every city. And some other songs started to get shouted out on a regular basis . . . Africa. Don’t Stop Believin’. Rocket Man.
Was rock making a come-back?
A whole year went by and I was getting ready to go back out on the road for the Christmas tour again. Knowing I would get Bohemian Rhapsody requested night after night, I decided to at least look at the music. My friend Elliott from Schmitt Music sent it to me and I stuffed it in my wardrobe case at the last minute. I decided I would learn to play a few lines at rehearsals and continue on the road at sound check every night.
After about a week, I had the first part learned and memorized, and the ending, but all of the middle and difficult section (the operatic L’istesso section) would be too much to learn on a stage with no lights, no music stand on my piano or my TASCAM in front of me (so I could listen to the actual recording). But, night number one, here it comes.
I was ready. I played my few learned lines and it was a hit. And I had a good ending.
And thus it began. Could I take rock music and make it spectacularly beautiful on the piano?
It was a new beginning for me. A new challenge was before me.
And so my song list began for the project. Africa, Don’t Stop Believin’, Free Bird, Stairway To Heaven, and Rocket Man made the list. And of course Bohemian Rhapsody.
This would be the biggest project in my career.
Before I started, Tim and I ran by the song titles to all the copyright holders. I was so anxious and excited that the three-week time frame for approvals felt like six months. And then we heard back.
None of the songs were approved. Every single one of them was denied. (I quickly learned that rock publishing rights are tricky and difficult to obtain.)
I remember that day very clearly. I put on the armor of God. It was cold outside and I bundled up and went out and shoveled snow, and asked the Almighty One to bless me.
In the end, He did. I got even more than I had hoped for and some interesting songs that I would have never chosen . . . but love, love, love.
Once we were granted approvals, I started learning the music. My routine life changed immediately and I was up and going (with a beautiful fluffy cappuccino made by Tim) and at the piano in my pajamas at 7:00 AM (it was still dark outside when I first started the project) every day, absorbing this strange but wonderful music that I actually grew up listening to on the radio. Each day was new and different, so exciting. I became a student. A student of rock music. How can I play that on the piano . . . ALL of the parts, including the melody? How can I create a pianistic performance styled arrangement of this great song?
I’m not kidding. Every song became my favorite. I listened to all of the original recordings over and over, measure by measure, note by note, to capture the nuances and the details, especially the lead vocal line. When I got to Stairway To Heaven, I physically got goosebumps and weepy. I still have no idea what the song is about, but when the drums came in it felt like something I’d never heard before. (OK. I have heard that song a million times, but not like this.) That morning as I learned this song . . . the sun came up.
And the heavens opened before me.
I enjoyed every single day putting this project together and am actually sad it is done. I will have to do another one. ROCK STAR II.
By the way, I titled this project ROCK STAR because my 30-year old daughter always says that to me. “Mom, you’re such a rock star.” I’ve honestly never thought of myself as a rock star.
But I’ll take it.
This is Ms. Line’s 58threcording and most ambitious work to date. She is celebrating 30 years of touring.
ROCK STAR releases the last week of June, 2019.
Photography above by Joel Larson. Hair by Dave Hermann. Styling and makeup by Lorie Line.
I'm organized. I think this is one of the main "ingredients" you have to have if you're going to be successful. I know where everything is, what I have, and it is neat and tidy. My close friends are surprised that they can come to my house at any time and it is always the same . . . the bed is made, bathroom is wiped down, clothes are hung up, laundry is done, dishes are done and the sink is sparkling, and nothing is really out of place.
"When do you clean?"
I don't have an official day to clean. I clean continually, when it's dusty or dirty . . . all day, every day. I look at something and say, "oh, I should dust that" or "I should polish that" and I do it right away.
What I've learned along the way is it's easier to clean when you have less. The more you have, the more maintenance it requires. (And, try moving ALL of your furniture into the garage once a month . . . that's what we do for The Living Room Series! You simplify and quickly learn to eliminate things you do not love.)
This past tour my percussionist was reading a book called "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo. When she talked about it, she sparkled. How could anyone be so excited about cleaning the house? At first I thought, "I don't need that book. I'm tidier than anyone I know." But, I had some extra time (and I actually like to clean, which is weird, I know) so in Wausau I went to the downtown local book store and bought the book.
In my dressing room, I started reading. I couldn't put it down. There was so much for me to learn. I actually got excited. I couldn't wait to get home to begin.
I decided that my overall goal would be to touch everything. If it didn't "spark joy" as Marie says, it would go. I would open every single drawer, every single cabinet and cupboard, pull it out, look at it, clean it (dust or polish it . . . ha!), sort and get rid of absolutely everything I didn't think I would use, and then neatly put it all back. This would mean that I was going to go through my entire kitchen and pantry, all of the linen closets, the mudroom and laundry room, my library of books and music books, all of our CDs, personal and professional photos, all of my work files, our office supplies, cleaning supplies, our kids rooms, all of the bathrooms, jewelry, cosmetics, Tim's things, and finally, every single piece of my own personal clothing. Omg.
I got home on Christmas Eve. And started in. At first it was easy because I began with the already neat and tidy areas (my kitchen and catering dishes). But then it got more complex. I worked every day on something. I'd walk by a cabinet and say, "oh no. I forgot about that."
One month later we had made 14 trips to Goodwill and Interfaith Outreach. We'd made two trips out to our dumpster at the warehouse. We disposed of a car-load of old computers through our local recycling company, and made a huge pile of paperwork to shred.
Finally, I made my way up to my own closet. I took everything out, (re-hung it all on beautiful wooden hangers that matched), washed and ironed or steamed garments that I had fallen out-of-love with (but they had potential), and folded everything "Kondo" style. The hardest drawer for me was leggings, tights, socks, pajamas and underwear. But I made it.
Along the way, Tim jumped in. He was in charge of all the house files, the old Lorie Line Music files (stored in the mechanical room), the manuals, all of the old electronics and computers and all our music collection.
One of the highlights of this project was burning our collection of CDs onto Tim's computer. (We decided we would burn all of our CDs onto Tim's computer and then pass them along.) While we worked, we actually played and listened to music . . . complete CDs!!! From the first song to the last song, we enjoyed every note and remembered the first time hearing this old music we'd had in our collection for over 30 years. (I couldn't wait to hear the next CD that we had saved.) It made tidying joyful. In all, Tim burned 1152 CDs onto his laptop. Every day for six weeks we listened to old music that was once again new to us. We laughed and cried as we shared so many beautiful memories together.
I know it's somewhat emotional to tidy up. Some people just can't do it. For me, I kept asking myself, "if I had to move into a brand new smaller house, would I take this? Do I love it? Do I really use this? Does it "spark joy" for me?" The whole experience of tidying up was liberating. My house now has a different energy because it is organized from top to bottom. And I absolutely love everything in it.
I finished every drawer, every cupboard, every cabinet and closet in the house.
I touched it all.
My blogs are written to inspire others.
Pictured above is my personal closet. People are surprised that it is so small. My performance gowns are stored at my warehouse.
Speaking of which, the day we finished tidying up our house, our warehouse owner called and said the main tenant was taking over and we had to downsize and move into a smaller space. We took a breath, and decided there was no time like the present. We were in the mood. We had practiced. Here we go! One more round.
We spent 10 (long and grueling) days and nights out at our warehouse sorting and tidying up.
FOR MORE INFORMATION https://www.lorieline.com/news.php?ID=119
Tim and Lorie have lived in their home for 22 years. Tim plans to tidy up the garage this spring. (I just told him I wrote this in my blog. He is laughing.)