Birthday Gig, Hello 27

Birthdays are for cake, presents, and doing your favorite things with your favorite people. My birthday is coming up on Sunday an my favorite thing (especially right now) is playing music, so I figured it would be a cool way to celebrate by finding a Sunday night writer’s round and inviting my friends to enjoy a few beers and a couple songs from some locals.

Thing is, Nashville doesn’t have a ton of open mic nights on Sundays. The internet led me to two. One of which, I had emailed months ago and got no response. So I do what you do in these situations — I sent another message, and (magically) Rocky of Bobby’s Idle Hour got back to me. He hosts writer’s rounds on Sunday night. He said he was full for the Sunday evening, but if I had a group of friends come out he could let me play before at 6:30.

“I trust you’re good,” he said, though he had literally no information on me other than my first name and phone number. He didn’t ask me if I played, where I played, who I played with, etc. Literally the guy just gave me a gig if I wanted it.


Uh, yaaaaaaaa!


I mean, I’ve been on some sweet stages before, but never playing my OWN tunes for my OWN crowd. Granted, it’s just going to be me sitting on a stool with a guitar and some basic chord progressions, but hey! This is a big ol’ step!


When I got off the phone with I felt like I just spoke with a big city executive in a silver screen film offering me a job if I could start in the morning. And my character was a humble farmer in the Midwest who would exclaim, “Yes! Yes, sir! Thank you, sir! I’ll catch the midnight train and be there by morning!”


I’m currently taking a break from a serious strum session. I have the tunes, and I feel pretty good going into this, but there are quirks of making 1 tune comfort level into a 5 song set. It needs to be cleaner. I need some intention behind my song choices and some polish. If you play 1 or 2  songs at an open mic and you fudge the chords a little, it’s no big deal. Nobody probably notices or cares because it is casual. But I have 5 songs. I can’t fumble every song and think people won’t catch on. Ya know?

That’s my subtle way of saying I’m more than low key stressing about making everything sound good. But what is amazing to me is that I’ve lost all track of time. This is my third antisocial evening of just playing and practicing. I’ve turned down plans, stayed up late, and I’m having a blast. Losing track of time because of how engaged you are in an activity is truly one of my top 5 favorite feelings. (Up there with happy crying)

I’m excited to be writing this update. I’ve been working damn hard on this musical pursuit, but it takes so much time and energy I have been neglecting the blog. A good problem to have, big-picture-wise. But, if it isn’t in the blog, did it even happen?!?!?!!


Cheers! To birthday presents from the universe. See you Sunday at 6:30 on Music Row 😉



For more updates and music follow @carolinemcgowanmusic on Instagram. Nothing posted as of this minute, but *spoiler* it’s coming. 

Nervous to post this — my first open mic vid

I’m here to report the good news but I am also getting butterflies while typing. In the past few months I finally checked off a major bucket list item. I wrote a song and I played it out at an open mic. The song is called “Clean Clothes” and I wrote it because I had been writing too many sappy sad songs. I’m not really a sad person, so I thought of what the best feelings are. One of the best feelings is when you find someone new and you are starting to fall in love. It is like you are sledding faster than you want to be but it is an electric and fun time. All the butterflies.

I’ll post the lyrics below. I hope you like it 🙂


“Clean Clothes”

You smell like clean clothes

You feel like kisses on the forehead

Homemade coffee sipping in bed

with the door closed


And it’s too soon

But I’m sensing –


I’m not getting out of this one easy

oh no

Gonna take a whole damn choir of angels to save me

And so

All I ask is that we try to take it slow.

Cuz I’m not getting out of this one easy


Mr. Left Field Delight

Mr. Maybe Mister Right

Singing me Sinatra love songs in the shower

And my head is a mess

And I cannot find my dress

I’m late to work but I confess

That is was worth it


At least I hope so,

Because I’m hopeless


I’m not getting out of this one easy

oh no

Gonna take a whole damn choir of angels to save me

And so

All I ask is that we try to take it slow.

Cuz I’m not getting out of this one easy


I may not get out of this one at all

But I’m to busy stumbling to worry if I fall


I’m not getting out of this one easy

oh no

Gonna take a whole damn choir of angels to save me

And so

All I ask is that we try to take it slow.

Cuz I’m not getting out of this one easy

Not getting out of this one easy

oh no


Cheers, all. To leaving the nervous feeling [that kept me from posting this for months] in 2017.

What’s up 2018.


A Scary Case of the Jingles

So far, I’ve explained my musical journey up to the point where I selected Nashville as a place to live. You know I want to write songs and break out of my opera mold. I moved to Tennessee in February 2016, and now I have a guitar called George. I’ll catch back up to the story, but I’m due for some musings.

As I’ve begun to dabble in songwriting, I’ve discovered a side effect that has possessed me like an unforgivable disease. This disease I call the “Jingles”.


What are the “Jingles”, you ask? Symptoms of this plague include:

  1. Trying to turn everything you do into a song.
  2. Constantly rhyming words with other words. Birds. Heards. Curds. —-AHHHHHH it’s happening again!!!
  3. Creating voice memos of wordless, melody-less, nonsense.

At best, the Jingles can unleash a creative monster, and lead to the makings of true art. At worst, the Jingles are like babysitting a 10 year old who just drank a 2-liter of caffeinated soda, unsupervised. See manic (adj.) 


I recently discovered that I have 52 [saved] voice memos. Those are just the ones I kept. In this cyber-pile of noise I found some prime examples of the Jingles. By that I mean I found some gawd-awful, incriminating recordings of myself singing complete nonsense. Allow me to embarrass myself by giving you a listen into 4 of the lowest moments on my voice memos…..

Let’s start with this fake country twang:

Then the pathetic “he didn’t text back” song:

Literally too tired to be doing this:

And — the holy $h*# — OUCH, my ears! moment:



Guys, I told you it wasn’t pretty! But that’s what a case of the Jingles will do to you. Blue. Grew. New. AHHH not the rhyming again!!!!!



In addition to the painful noises I just filled your ears with, I was surprised to find there were actually a couple good recordings. With a little work, I could turn out a song or two from bunch! It is reassuring to know that even if some ideas are bad ones, at least they are in motion. As evil and haunting as the Jingles are, they definitely keep the momentum going. Flowing n’ growing. Reaping n’ sewing. Raking n’ mowing. Windy n’ blowing—



Okay, fine, I’ll stop.

Cheers! To hiding behind the computer….because I would never play those clips for anyone in person….







George & The Toolbox

Every year, a dear friend and I get together to talk about New Year’s goals. “Making music” in some form or fashion has been on my list for at least 5 years. Several have passed with nothing to show for it, other than a reserved spot on my next New Year’s list. Facing another year of failure in 2015, I took a long hard look in my metaphorical tool kit.



^^internet toolbox kid looks like a babysitting nightmare…lol

My musical toolkit included:

  1. 10 years of classical vocal training. My hammer & nails.
  2. A basic understanding of piano, at a 6th grade level (Damn 15 year old rebellious Caroline for quitting!)
  3. A performing history including high school theater, pageants, National Anthem gigs, karaoke, etc.
  4. A handful of voice memos in my phone of myself singing or trying out my own melodies.
  5. A little cash money. (Money is always a tool. lol)


If I was going to really make some music, I figured I needed to do what the music makers do. This toolbox needed some help. There is a reason Country Opera isn’t a thing. The piano felt like an old enemy. Karaoke does not count, no matter how many Bud Light’s you’ve had.

I deferred to #5. I bought a guitar.


Meet George. (I didn’t name him, my dad did)


I bought George at a music store in Des Moines, Iowa on a cold, icy day in December. I was nervous to go in the store. I knew nothing, and I hate making eye contact with overly-friendly salespeople. Ugh. I knew what I had to do. Inside the modest store, guitars were hung on the wall and lined a corner section. A sanctuary of rock n’ roll fantasy. The instruments twinkled with fresh varnish. It was dazzling.


I asked for help. Fortunately, the guy was nice, and not scary. He looked like a guy who listened to a lot of classic rock. He wore a newsie hat and had a goatee. He didn’t try to oversell me. We decided on a Breedlove that had a tuner built in and a place to plug a cord for an amp (for when I play on stage of course…#butterflies). I picked up a guitar beginner’s book and a 4-chord song book and went to the register. He threw in some guitar picks…cool. 

I drove home through the snowy Iowa suburbs with my new toys and closed myself in my room. I was a child again. I unzipped the fabric casing and pulled out the shiny piece of musical architecture. My first pickings were soft and calculated as I re-tuned. I felt the depth of tone and thickness of chords as I plinked unrhythmic patterns. As I grew more confident, I unleashed violent strums just to feel the power. It wasn’t pretty, but, damn, it was satisfying.


My fingertips became sore.  I stopped for the day. I looked at George, my missing piece. It was apparent I had a long way to go.

In the days following, I formed calluses on my fingertips and learned how to play a couple 4-chord country tunes. It became clear as I strummed the Southern tunes that I wasn’t ready for the $3000 apartments and endless train commutes of NYC. I wanted to be where the music is. I needed more tools in my toolbox.

I made the announcement to my family and friends– next stop: Nashville.


Me too, Deacon. Me too.

Cheers! To George, ear-splitting chords, and what is to come.






Woozy Birds and Sassy Shoulder Angels

Have you ever seen a bird fly directly into a window? BAM! You are minding your own business when you hear a jolting thunk slap a silly ball of feathers to the ground.

I feel you, bird.


Sometime in January I hit the metaphorical glass — which I have since diagnosed as my comfort zone. And Ow– I flew right into my confidence boundaries.

6 months ago I said I was to “finally” get on with my next season of this blog. I said I was “back”, “ready”, etc. And I then I got scared. Not lazy – truly, I can’t tell you how many drafts of this blog I have discarded over the months. I got scared the blog magic was gone. I got scared that I would regret my decision to be transparent now that I’m in a more professional role. I got scared that I was starting to get too old to be a “dorky chick”… the mountain of micro-anxieties piled up.UPXbmm9.png

Well bullshittery is over. I’m not that special, I’m not that prophetic, and I’m not that old. And apparently I needed to remind myself of that! Time to fly over the glass and not into it. Here it goes–

My confession:

I want to make a musical project. I want to use my Dorky Chick e-journal and take a diversion from fashion and glamour and listen to the melodic whispers in my head. I want to play, write, and share music. Mostly, just to see what if it’s fun. I think it will be.

There, I said it. Phew.


Lately I’ve been caught up in chasing “adulthood”. With that A-word comes implied pragmatism. Instead of daydreams, I’m debating salmon or chicken for dinner. Instead of  late night writing sessions, I’m worrying about full REM cycles.

The angel and devil on my shoulders have been in the biggest battle for creativity I can remember. 


Fortunately, my shoulder angel is a sassy broad that wears bright colors, sings loudly, and isn’t afraid to play in the rain. And she has finally marched her tiny, fluffy purple slippers over my head and pushed my grey,  whiney shoulder devil clean off of my 5’7” frame. No more of this creativity naysaying!


Double confession:

I’ve secretly been working on this musical transformation for a little while now. Somewhere along the line I bought a guitar, enlisted some help, and even wrote a couple tunes. I kinda think I’m on to something. It makes me feel like this:

^Sadly, that is not me, but is more like my reigning spirit animal.

There is plenty of story yet to tell and future story to make. It is so easy to get caught up trying to do all of the societal maintenance (make money, make friends, make food, etc.) that somehow feeling artistically expressive doesn’t feel like a priority. For some people it isn’t! (That’s okay, too!) But for this Dorky Chick it is a huge priority. It doesn’t matter if you hit the glass, get back up!

Sassy shoulder angel says so. 


Cheers, friends– to a new groove!




**Note, this blog post contains no GIFs because this internet is moving too slow and life is too short for me to wait any more time to post. Memes were the best I could do, please don’t leave me. (dramatic, longing sobs) Thank you for your time.**


Paperback Pharmacy: A Note on Self-Improvement

I don’t know about you, but I want to be freakin’ awesome.

I don’t always feel freakin’ awesome.  January resolution season always reminds me of the distance between myself and alternate-reality-freakin’-awesome me. She’s off in some parallel universe simultaneously eating vegetables and kickboxing while on bluetooth closing sales deals. Late? Never. Selfish? Not that saint. Bad jokes? Still gets raucous laughter.


If you are looking for me this month, I’m usually in the self-improvement section of Barnes & Noble. I basically shop for books like I’m at a pharmacy. What will it be this time: productivity boosters or spirit supplements…..

There are three books right now that I’m using to medicate my manic millennial mind.

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1) The Social Organism by Michael J. Casey  & Oliver Luckett – Call it a perspective enhancer. This book is a ‘theory of everything’. It takes a look at technology as being as alive as we are. This book is an excellent conversation piece. Essentially a giant metaphor, it illustrates the contagion of ideas and makes bold prophecies about what the future holds for mankind. I recommend for anyone who likes getting into debates with friends. It does get a little political at times, but if you brush that aside, the overall idea will make anyone go “huh!”. Check it out here.


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2) Managing Oneself by Peter F. Drucker – This is like  a wheatgrass shot of awareness for the workplace. A quick read, it talks about finding one’s own work style. Do you learn by doing or writing or perhaps talking? Are you meant to be a decision-maker or a persuader? I recommend for anyone who can write a to-do list but not finish it. Interested? Click.



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3) Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert – A creativity laxative-er-relaxer. One of my dear friends texted me to recommend and an hour later it was in my hot little hands. Any book that believes magic is real is a book for me. Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat, Pray, Love fame, does a lovely job of bringing her gentle, delighting approach to self-reflection. She playfully begs you to give your inner artist a chance to flourish. I recommend for anyone who thinks they “used” to be creative. Link to book.




Enjoy these brain snacks. Each book is totally different, but all three ask the reader to learn something about themselves. Each seems to hold secrets to the parallel universe of freakin’ awesomeness.

Cheers! To Vitamin B[ooks].

– Caroline

P.S. If you are crazy enough to try one, please let me know!!

Juice Cleanse Blog: Metamorphosis of a Turbo Ninja Diva

8:30 A.M. – Drive to Juice Nashville and pick up 18 bottled liquids and reusable insulated tote. The juicery is modern and white on the inside, like something out of a sci-fi movie. The lone millennial employee tells me I can eat raw solid foods if I’m feeling compromised. I say “okay, cool” and smile. But on the inside I know I’m not a wuss. I WILL BE STRONG.


9:00 A.M. – Arrive home. Line ’em up. Decide to start with the one that looks least appetizing. Apple lemon cayenne. Tastes like spicy apple juice. I feel like my face is sweating for a couple minutes. Is this a ripoff? Idk. I start typing this blog.


3:00 P.M. Feeling a little juicy, I crack open the raw, chocolate almond milk that is 1 of my 6 daily bottles. It tastes dreamy and breaks up the monotony.

5:00 P.M. Really uneventful day. I feel fine, but have been pretty sedentary. Just dumping juices into my body.

9:00 P.M. I drink the last juice. My day was great. I am not in the personal hell feared by many. All of the juices are so sweet, it is like I am drinking mocktails all day. Question: is this insane amount of sugar okay?

Day 2:

New Year’s Eve! Still totally fine, aside from being a little brain-foggy. I saw a couple friends for catch-up sessions and felt like I was only 80% present. Doesn’t feel like magic yet, just a lotttt of sweet liquid.

10 p.m. Bedtime for me. Maybe I’ll catch midnight next year. Feeling more zen already.

Day 3:

9 a.m. Leisurely morning. Apathetic about the juices, and not noticeably different, but whatever just one more day. 

12 p.m. Aaaand then it got real. I feel hungover but I haven’t drank a drop. All of the side effects are kicking in. Sour attitude, longing for solid food, fatigue. I’m in the final inning, though. I can’t give up. 4 juices down today, 2 to go. The cold-pressed chocolate almond milk revives me… kinda. Must stop writing because it is making me even more annoyed at the world. iuehriuwrcesico23q87q8yreius23p958ys

7 p.m. I am not feeling so miserable. I take a fancy bath soak. I read an introspective book. I get a swell of energy and apologize to my best friend for snapping at her earlier.


Day 4– back on real food:

8 a.m. I wake up. Because the holiday was on Sunday, we have Monday off. First thing I do? Eat, duh. 1 egg, 1/3 avocado, 1/2 grapefruit. I try to keep it really small, knowing there may be a reentry period. So far so great, and I wasn’t hungry afterwards. I go for a walk near the Nashville Parthenon and get coffee.


10 a.m. Return from my walk, and immediately start singing around the house. (Constant singing is probably #1 reason I choose to live alone– ex-choir kid has to get her kicks somehow, amiright??) As I’m getting warmed up into my voice, it sounds better than normal. I can always gauge my health by how my voice is sounding. If it is that time of the month or I am tired or if I have an illness coming on, I’ll know by how free my tone sounds. I felt so electric, I gave my unsuspecting neighbors a full diva showcase.


Maybe it was the endorphins from finally walking. Maybe it was the caffeine. Maybe it was the relief from drowning my stomach in pools of liquid. I felt incredible. And, it has continued through the week. I even tweeted Juice Nashville to let them know I felt like a turbo ninja. Sure, juice cleanses have reputations for making people brag about how amahhhzing they feel, but the best way I can describe it is that I felt alert and in tune with my body. The idea of a cocktail sounded like something that would slow me down instead of calm me down. Endorphins from my walk felt sweeter than normal in my rested body.

Overall, I loved it. I didn’t have to cook for 3 days. I felt energized for 2017. I shed some holiday bloat. And I tried something I’d wanted to for awhile. *self high five*

Cheers! To starting the new year like a turbo ninja diva. 




Dorky Chick in Nashville: Hey Y’all

Sigh. Tikka tikka. *delete* Tikka tikka tikka. *delete, delete* I missed that soft, unrhythmic percussion of my thoughts leaking onto the internet. Can you believe it has been a year since last we met?

After concluding my final post by clinking cyber glasses to 2016, I disappeared into blogging oblivion. I fell out of love with my craft. I shut the blog down, deleted all the videos, and even cancelled the domain. I wanted to move past the quirky show-and-tell of my early twenties. I was in search of a slick new identity, something evolved. I experimented with a couple writing projects privately, but nothing stuck. And then that damn voice started talking to me again– the one that belongs to a girl with fire-engine red hair and ruthless daydreams. I couldn’t let her go again, so I’m back. 


Where to start? A recap?

If this blog were broken into seasons, Season 1 would be all about Portland and fashion and finding my voice. In the pilot episode, I dyed my hair cherry red and said good-bye to an old me. I blogged about design classes, outfits, fashion designers, and personal projects. The climax was being an insider VIP host at FashioNxt, Portland’s Premier Fashion Week, and having a brief internship with Project Runway winner, Michelle Lesniak.


Season 2  I set my sights on writing for Cosmopolitan magazine and chronicled two trips to Cosmopolitan’s Fun Fearless Life conference in New York City. Then there was a sudden move out of Portland and classic bleach/chop/life-change haircut. The season finale was the unique privilege of having an article published on the Cosmpolitan website, through their short-lived contributor network “The Mix”. You can view it here.

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I intend to blog in the present, but I ought to fill you in on 2016.

Season 3– This would be the season that only aired on an obscure cable network, but is important to the plot. In episode 1, I am watching Netflix in my pj’s. It is noon on a Thursday. I’m spending a lot of time googling Manhattan apartments. Bored, I text my dear friends who live in Nashville, Tennessee and ask, “if I got in my car and drove 10 hours to see you, could I stay on your couch for the weekend?” 10 hours later, they hand me a beer. 10 days later, I finally return home. 10 weeks later, I put my life in my car and drive south–one way. (End scene.)


10 months later, and I just received my Tennessee license in the mail, y’all! If I was still growing, I would be a foot taller. I am a saleswoman with an office. I live in a beautiful apartment with amenities. I have seen more live music in a single year than I had seen in my lifetime. And in between the scheduled things, I learned a hellova lot about starting over, companionship, family, weakness, workplace, music, the human spirit, politics, and even BBQ.

The season finale is clinking flutes of cold pressed juice instead of champagne. Confident that I met my alcohol quota for 2016, I opted for a zen NYE. No sequins,  no bar tabs, and no hangover (woo!). Just clarity, friendship, and optimism. Change is a good thing. 

I’ve holed up in my apartment with laptop open, cruising into 2017 by way of mellow tikka tikka tikka on the keyboard. What will Season 4 be about? There will be more YOLO-ing. There will be more creative projects.  I will continue to chronicle the absurdity of adulthood, and I’ll try and infect you with some of the inspiration that has infected me.


Cheers, friends! To the voices in our head, the art of identity, and Music City, USA.



Happy, Cheesy, Beautiful, New Year

Recently I went to Nashville and New Orleans! Nashville is amazing, blah blah. And New Orleans? Blah blah, it was also amazing.


What’s the story here?

I hope you aren’t vegan because it is about to get cheesy.

In the spirit of being transparent: my track record doesn’t exactly make me a crusader in finding inner beauty. (The whole pageant thing, working at a makeup company, and having a blog with ‘lipstick’ in the title… need I say more?)  In light of my recent travels I was reminded of just how it feels hitting the open road makeup-free, wearing yesterday’s clothes, and having no idea what the next destination looks like. It is a kind of thrill that makes a person like me forget the the relevance of lipstick. The trip reminded me what “beauty” really feels like.

This will probably be my last post of 2015, so consider this my holiday greeting to you:

May you find yourself in clothes that need washing, shoes that are comfier than bare feet,  wind to mess up your hair, friends to pour the champagne, and food to take off your lipstick. May you feel beautiful as you are, and may you carpe the damn diem.


Cheers- to the best moments of the old year. On with the new!