Family Reunion Blog Feature

One of the highlights on the CD for many people (well, at least my relatives) is the song “In-Laws, Outlaws and Offspring.”  One day I was browsing around for family reunion blogs, and I found, which is a very comprehensive website about planning your family reunion, whatever type of group you have.  “Aunt Mo” runs the site, and offers lots of great ideas, tips, games and activities to implement at your family reunions, including theme packages for theme reunions.  It’s a really cool website!

She was also kind enough to feature the family reunion song from Driven.  She interviewed me and published the story here.  There are a few pictures and well-guarded stories from reunions past, and if you have a chance, it’s kind of a fun read.

But don’t worry, Ward relatives, I didn’t give away all the family secrets…


Song Lyrics Available on the Website

If you haven’t seen it yet, I’d just like to direct your attention to the top of your screen–to the button that says “Lyrics.”  I just posted the words to a newer song I’ve been performing live, called “One of the Good Ones.”

I will be posting song lyrics here and there as I can get to them. In the meantime, feel free to read the ones I’ve already posted, which include a few from the Driven EP. Thanks for reading!

Door Prizes!

Are you getting excited for the release party?!  I know I am!  It’s consuming all of my free time these days–but I assure you, it will be a great time!  Food and drinks will be available, we’ll have a great big cake, we’ll listen to some music and you get to go home with free stuff!  And who doesn’t love free stuff?

We’ve got a bunch of door prizes, and we’ll be giving them away, raffle-style.  And how does a person get tickets?  Oh, let me count the ways!   Everyone gets one for walking in the door, and there will be another in each goodie bag.  You can also get tickets for signing up for the mailing list, and recognizing a song from the CD when it starts to play over the sound system.  The best way, in my opinion (with no limits!), is that you get a ticket for every $5 you spend at the merch table–on CDs, t-shirts, and more!  (Put on the shirt you buy and we’ll give you one more.)

The more raffle tickets you have, the better…because look at all the great stuff you could win:

  • Portrait Photography Session—Erin K Photography
  • Miche Shells—Stephanie Kolczak,  Independent Miche Rep
  • T-shirts, License Plate Frames, Misc  – KMON
  • Zinfandel—Wines by Wednesday
  • Ukeleles (2)—Guitars of Montana
  • Gift Card—Suki Café
  • Montana Silversmiths bracelet and earrings—Montana Silversmiths
  • Full Auto Detailing voucher—Flawless Auto Body
  • Boudoir Portrait Session—Monica L DeShaw
  • Rodan & Fields Skincare Packages (2)—Melanie Hauer, Consultant
  • Gift Card—Dante’s Creative Cuisine
  • “Bag of Bags” candy gift basket—Candy Masterpiece
  • Baseball cap and coffee mugs—Dowl HKM
  • Bud Light camp chair, Busch Light backpack—Eagle Beverage
  • Gift Card—2K’s Kafé
  • Ford Racing Baseball Caps—Bison Ford
  • Gift Card—Albertson’s
  • Door Prize –  Studio Montage
  • Growler and 1 Free Fill—Bowser Brewing Company


We’re very lucky to have so much support from the community–not only are these sponsors wonderful people who shop locally and support the arts, but they are also great at what they do.  Links to their respective web presences can be found here.  Please make sure to look them up!



One more week!

A week from tomorrow, my first CD will be released.  As the days rush past me and the date gets closer, I am having to let go of a little of the control that I so enjoy having, as lead times become too long, shipping becomes too expensive, and I am just supposed to be ready.  And “being ready” is something that I definitely ought to be by now.  I’ve been dreaming of this day longer than most girls dream of their wedding day.  I remember buying my first keyboard and thinking to myself, “no matter what anyone tells me, one day I am going to record an album.”  That was in about the fifth grade.

I didn’t really expect it to take this long…in college, I made a lot of basic recordings on my computer, got them onto cassette tapes, printed out black-and-white jackets and gave them out to people I hoped would understand.  I loved every part of it–from writing the songs to designing the tape cover.  A lot has changed since then–from recording technology to my ability to print in color.  The songs have changed since then, although this project has a lot of my earliest songwriting on it.  What hasn’t changed is my love of the art.   Writing songs has always been a part of me, something I could set down now and then but never for long.  Finally being able to record this material “the right” way looked for a while like it may never happen.  Life got in the way and then got back out of the way, and here we are, on the verge of unleashing it on the world.  And hopefully this is just the beginning.

“Making it big” has never really been the goal.  What I’ve always wanted more than anything is to write the songs, play the music, and find my audience….the people who “get” it.  And to be able to afford to do that.  This isn’t my first step to seeking out a record deal–I want to BE the record deal.  I want to choose my producer, graphic designer, photographer, and I want to do business with people I like and want to support.   This project has been all of that and so much more.  I’ve been extremely fortunate to have some of the best talent in the state and beyond to choose from when it comes to these things. (See this earlier blog post crediting the folks involved with the project.)

So, next weekend, there will be a big party to celebrate.  It’s the completion of one milestone on the road to a dream.  But I like to think we won’t be celebrating just my dream, but the world of possibilities out there for any and all of us to follow our hearts to what we really want in life.  I don’t know if I’ve ever been busier than I am right now.  But I don’t think I’ve ever been happier, either.

For anyone interested in the CD, it will be available at the party.  We’ll have some merch to sell, we’ll do a couple songs (“we” = my guitarist, Ryan Horn, and me) and we’ll all have a heck of a good time.  If you’re interested in the details, please be sure to check out the Release Party page on this site.

So far, the response has been fantastic.  Thanks everyone for all of your support!

What’s New with the Deejster

So, the past month has been a little crazy.  This has kept me off my blog, and for that, I apologize.  I was in Fort Worth for a few days, learning about utility accounting, which I’m sure will serve me well in my musical career.  I also made a semi-expensive stop at the Justin Outlet.  Now that I know such a place exists, I may be in trouble.  I’ve never met a Justin I didn’t like.

Aside from the day job, I currently co-host an open mic night once a week with my pal Joe Ryan (the guy I’m dueting with on the EP).  Last week, I had a gig with the ever-popular Mike Beeson/Miss Sloan, and, as always, I’ve been recording.  This week, I ordered some sound equipment so that when the time comes, I can play a few gigs around the area.  The plan for now is to set everything up in my living room, and carefully select and repeatedly play my set list over and over for my dust bunnies.  Once the lot of us agree that my show is ready for public consumption, I will start looking for some public to consume it.

The EP project is taking a little longer than intended.  We’ve had some issues with equipment and tracking people down.  But, we have the last few sessions scheduled, Chuck is all over the layout and graphic design, and I should have something ready to send the printers and pressers by the end of the month.  Thanks for your patience!  (Please don’t lose interest in buying my CD…..)  🙂

I’ve been reading a lot about marketing, and trying to decide which artists I am most similar to, so that I can try to get the EP into places where people who like it will look.  Not an easy task for anyone who writes their own material, unless they are purposefully and successfully emulating someone specific.   Come to think of it, to make my life easier, I will make sure the next album sounds as much like Nicki Minaj as possible.

Right now, I’m spending some time preparing for another trip I have coming up.  I’m going to the TAXI Road Rally in Los Angeles a few weeks from now.   I’m pretty excited about it, but right now, at the top of the list is choosing the appropriate luggage.  More on that later.

Happy Thursday!

-Dana Jo

Who’s That Behind the Curtain?

There are some great musicians on this record.  I’d just like to take a moment to mention them.

Acoustic guitar – Ryan Horn

Mandolin and fiddle – Dale Ellis

String Bass – Chuck Fulcher

On fairly short notice, all of these people have taken time from their already busy performing schedules to spend a few hours with us in the studio.  We put them on the spot, asked them to learn multiple songs very quickly, and they gave us solid, heartfelt performances that are really, really making the record.  I am blown away by the instrumentals I get to sing with.

Michael Gilboe, who is producing the record, is tracking some piano and percussion as well.  There are still a couple of string arrangements and cello parts in the works.   A high point for me will be singing a duet with Joe Ryan on a song called “Everybody Wants to Fall in Love.” He gave us a little time at the end of his EP recording session last night to learn the harmonies and record the scratch track.  Word on the street is his 2-year-old twins dig it.

There are a few other people involved in this project that I’d like to mention as well.  The music is important, but so is the packaging!  It will be the first impression for a lot of people, so great photography and design are critical to the process.  These folks came highly recommended, and for good reason.

Monica DeShaw – Lilli’s Studio – The professional photographer responsible for the EP photos, many of which you will eventually see here

Chuck Fulcher – In addition to his mad bass skills, Chuck’s day job is actually marketing and graphic design. He’s also an accomplished artist, which you’ll see on his website. I’m very happy to say he will be designing the EP’s cover as well.

One thing I am really enjoying about this project is that I get to work with so many other talented people in Great Falls.  There is so much inspiration here, and I’m so fortunate to have a circle that allows me to find other artists and musicians to work with.   Everyone whose help I’ve asked for has shown so much enthusiasm and willingness to help with the project.  It’s so encouraging.

So, thank you to everyone who already is or will be involved–your contributions are incredible!  We couldn’t do this without you!

…To Hear the Sound of Your Own Voice

So, last night, we started tracking lead vocals! I’ve been getting pretty nervous, because vocals are the last thing (typically) that you track in a recording project, and I’ve been waiting several weeks to find out what they were going to sound like. You can hear all the instrumentation coming together, but until you get that vocal down, it’s not really “your” album. And the studio is a whole different animal than that seat on a log by the campfire. Over the years, I had become used to karaoke, and more recently, open mic nights, where the resonance of the room, coupled with a high-energy crowd, a touch of reverb, and…well…beer, made me feel like a rock star.

The studio is different. In the studio, you really ARE the star. You sit on comfortable, cushy furniture, drinking temperature-controlled water, wearing big stereo headphones with 1/4″ plugs (the kind that say, “I’m headphones, and I mean it”) and singing into microphones that were made to be sung into by professionals, instead of folks from Friday-night office parties. The kind of microphones that don’t smell like cigarettes and PBR. The kind of microphones that say (in a language all their own), “Hey, this is what you REALLY sound like.”

And what a difference! I’ve learned more about my voice singing into studio mics than I ever knew in some 20 years of mimicing the sounds I heard coming from the radio. Until I heard my voice through studio mics, I was certain that I sounded like Marie Osmond, Amy Lee and Lzzy Hale all rolled in to one. Imagine my surprise when I heard myself sing into a quality microphone, and the sound that came out was….well…MY voice. My very own voice!

I suppose it’s not very easy to explain to someone who hasn’t been there. It wasn’t a rude awakening, though it was definitely an awakening. Singing into good mics, you start to learn the intricacies of your own vocal style–what works, what doesn’t, and what sounds are unique to you. You learn what your real recordable range is, and which types of songs sound better in different segments of that range. You begin to think of these things as you’re writing songs, and you chart them in the best key for your voice to begin with–instead of the best key for your self-accompaniment ability.

So, tonight we track another song or two, and we “Keep the Fire Burnin'”, as REO Speedwagon would say. Turns out, this isn’t going to be a Pat Benatar record. I don’t know about you, but I’m relieved. She’d sound pretty funny singing “In-laws, Outlaws and Offspring.”