The Whale and the Albatross

March 23rd, 2016
“In the end, only three things matter: How much you loved, how gently you lived, and how graciously you let go of the things not meant for you.”
~ Jack Kornfield

Once there swam a majestic blue whale.  She was rare in scope and song and she sang every day into the blackness of the sea calling and calling for her pod.

Her songs were light and joyous and clear and she dreamed her joy would bring her a family with whom she could sing for all the days of her life.
One morning she woke at the surface of the sea and found that a great, white albatross had taken roost upon her back.
“I hope you don’t mind,” said he. “I was tired and lost and your song was so sweet, I decided to rest here with you.”
The whale was surprised but flattered by the compliment and glad of the company, so she agreed to let the great bird stay with her for a time.
Morning turned to night and together they observed the sky change from orange to deep black.   The whale had never seen the sky through its phases and had surely never seen the stars.  She sighed and gasped and her eyes grew wide as dinner plates.
The albatross told her everything he knew about the wind and the clouds and the sky.  He told her stories of faraway mountains, of trees and sand dunes and of creatures of the land.  He drew shapes for her in the stars.
In return, the whale sang him songs of the vastness of the ocean, the darkness and the depth, of all the spindly, toothy and globby sea creatures and of her hollow longing to find her pod.
Night lifted to morning and as the sun pushed over the divide, the whale found herself afraid that the great bird was going to leave her soon.
“Where will you go?”  she asked.
“Home.”  He replied.
“Where is home?” She asked.
“I don’t know.” He replied.
“What if home was here with me?” She asked after a time.
“No.” Said the albatross.  “You must swim and I must fly.”
The whale grew silent and the great bird bowed his head to her skin.
“Will you remember me?” Asked the whale.
“How could I forget the songs that reveal all that lies beneath the surface of the sea?  A world that I would never have known, you have made plain and beautiful to my mind.  I can never forget that.  Will you remember me?”
The whale drifted in silence for a time.  When she spoke, she spoke slowly.  “I have been swimming and singing for many years.  All of these years I have been alone, but I have never been lonely.  After listening to your stories and singing my songs to you, for the first time in my many years, I know that when you go away, I will know what it is to be lonely and I will miss you greatly.  It is impossible to forget someone when that someone is missed so dearly.”
“I will miss you too.”  Said the great bird.
They floated together in silence for a while, warming themselves in the sun.  As it set on the third day, the great bird stood and stretched his wings wide.
“Thank you, Whale Heart.  You have made this world more beautiful to me than I knew it possible and I am grateful.”
As he lifted himself on a warm updraft to sail towards the horizon, the whale dipped slowly to the sea floor and, for the first time in her life she sang a song of loss.
It was the most beautiful song he had ever heard.

Show in Bolinas March 31st!

March 21st, 2016

Hey Folks!


REMPlease join me for a lovely trip up to Bolinas for a night of singing and pickin’ with my two favorite stringsters, Marty Atkinson and Ryan Avery.

We hit the stage around 8pm and play until they shut us down (around 11 because locals and school night).

Check out the Facebook Event Page Here:


Be sure to join us as we are sure to bring it.


Thursday, March 31st

Smiley’s Schooner Saloon

41 Wharf Rd, Bolinas, California 94924


No cover!

See you on the beach!

Dance Magic Dance

January 12th, 2016

The Americano Social Club has been a second family to me for the past few years.  They notoriously create space for community, celebration, love and life wherever they go.  I consider myself blessed to be counted among them and to be able to contribute my talents where and when I can.

One of the songs we play regularly is one of my favorite songs of all time.  It is a song by the late, great David Bowie who passed away Sunday evening after gifting us with yet another masterpiece album on the date of his 69th birthday.

Please enjoy this Americano tribute to one of mankind’s freakiest geniuses.    Thank you, Major Tom, for all of it.


December 3rd, 2015

Submitted for your perusal:

“At first, I characterized my struggle as “Being taken seriously” because I did a funny show and that, despite having been cited in amicus briefs by the Electronic Frontier Foundation in lawsuits about net neutrality against the federal government, people just saw me as a girl who breaks stuff.”

~  Please enjoy my submission for Silicon Valley Tales: An Interview with Senior Tech Correspondent and the Backup-Host of Marketplace at American Public MediaMolly Wood


Songwriters At Play Podcast Now Available For Download and Streaming

October 13th, 2015

Hey Folks! The podcast for Songwriters At Play is now up and available for your listening pleasure. Ryan and I were fortunate to have been included in the Songwriter Showcase at Sculpterra Winery in Paso Robles on our most recent tour.





Found Meaning and The Value of Free Time While on Tour

August 26th, 2015

This tour is positively whipping on by.   Although we would have loved to have had a couple more shows lined up, things are moving fairly swiftly considering we’ve had a bit of downtime.   I have zero problems with this.   I strongly believe in leaving space open for the unexpected and allowing the time to explore said “unexpected.”

Ryan and I consider ourselves fairly lucky in that we both have day jobs that treat us fairly well.  We haven’t yet made the leap to full-time musicians, nor at this stage could we afford to.   Tours like these happen when we are both able to take the time off and coordinate a substantial list of places to show up and do our thing.  We rely on this time to make the loudest bang we can until we are able to hit the road again.   This brings me back to the down time….TY

Because our shows are generally in the evenings, we have most of the day to do the administrative work, laundry, blogging, game-planning, rehearsing and reflection.   For example, today will be spent writing “Thank You” cards to folks who made donations to the cause in absentia.   These were a completely unexpected gift and we wanted to make sure they were acknowledged.

We also had a free day to spend with a few people we haven’t seen in a long time.  First up were Jade Stone and Mike Lisching.  Jade’s family hosted us at their unbelievably beautiful home in Orange County the previous day.   It was an intimate crowd and Ryan did his best to play to the fine folks in the balcony.

Photo by Gary Stone

Photo by Gary Stone

Jade and Mike took us on a kayak tour of Balboa Island.  The weather was perfect and the water was unreal.   So too, for that matter, were the houses.   Holy moneybags, Batman.   Jade’s family is third generation Los Angelesian (to coin a term) and her grandfather had a cute, modest house nestled in between some of the most extravagant expenditures of the American dollar either of us had ever seen.  It appeared as though each house came with a yacht and a private dock.   There was a tribute to a Tuscan Villa, a Provincial Palace, and something in the relative size and shape of the New York Public Library.  One house even had a dinosaur creeping out of the trees.  At least there is a sense of humor about the whole thing.  I think…..Needless to say, we were impressed.

After a sweet jam session with Mike and Jade, we shoved off to La Mesa to visit an old friend of mine who invited us down the night before.   I haven’t seen this person since she and her husband were married three years ago and, before that, I hadn’t seen her since I left New York City.   We were VERY close.   We were also fairly young at the time and ended up having a bit of a falling out.  Blame it on whatever or whoever. I simply chalk it up to us being young and struggling to be the superstars we had set out to be.   It was a devastating time for me and I was unsure if we would ever reconcile.  When I received the invitation to her wedding some years later, I was shocked and humbled.  So I decided to go, alone, not knowing at all what to expect.   This is the thing about me; When I decide to jump into the deep end, I jump in naked.  In the interest of time and bandwidth, I’ll just say that my heart was warmed and I was welcomed by her friends and family. I was truly honored to be a part of the celebration.   After the wedding, we touched base here or there,  but unfortunately life is such that even the internet can’t truly keep people as connected as it is in our nature to be sometimes.   So, when Holly invited us down to visit her and her and her husband Jesse in their home that evening, I was all over it.   Two hour drive be damned, I was going to see my old friend again.

This is the part where leaving time to explore the unexpected is essential to a tour (or existence for that matter).   You know those friendships that can have years of space and hundreds of miles of time between them?  The ones where those years and miles melt away as if they never happened and you pick up right were you left off?   This is that friendship.  At least it is to me.   The conversation started and didn’t stop until the next day when we packed ourselves into my car to drive back up north.    However, before we did that, we made time for a bit of an impromptu artistic collaboration between the four of us.  This was the icing on the cake for a few reasons:

  1. I have always been impressed by Holly’s wit and resourcefulness.  She is one of the sharpest people I know and together with her husband, is building and running an impressive multi-media business out of their home.  We were STOKED that they asked us to stay and play.
  2. Ryan and I were able to see what an amazing team Holly and Jesse are together.  It was almost seamless. After watching this pair communicate and execute their work, I had to ask what their secret was.  I was relieved and humbled to hear that (as are many relationships and partnerships)  it was a work in progress.  Not to get too grandiose with this concept, but it gave me incredible respect for the human ability to overcome personal obstacles and work together towards something greater.
  3. I was able to see Ryan let go of the reigns a bit.  Usually, Ryan is the producer, engineer on TOP of being the musician. This time Jesse and Holly had it covered.  They know what they are doing and we could both just sit back and be musicians.  It was lovely.

    Holly with her rig at WorkPlay

    Holly with her rig at work/play

Unfortunately I didn’t get a shot with Jesse in it.  There was just too much awesome stuff happening to do all of the things that I wanted to do.  For instance, we forgot to leave them with an arm full of CDs before we left in a daze.  (DOH!)  There will MOST DEFINITELY be a care package in these fine folks’ future.

I can’t stress enough how valuable this time was for me as a human and as a musician.  I can’t stress enough how this wasn’t a part of the original plan, but MAKING the space for it was essential to the overall weight of the experience.  While we didn’t have a gig that day, we made a most excellent and valuable re-connection.  We are all busy building our dreams and it is NOT easy.   It is SO easy to lose track of the limited amount of time that we have on this tiny little blue ball as well as the original motivation for our goals.  This is why I believe it is essential to allow time for the people in your life that bring meaning and experiences that broaden your scope of understanding of what it means to be a human being.  I believe we need to give ourselves time to reconnect, reflect and sometimes even redirect if that is what is needed to continue with grace.

We still have a week left on the road and I already consider this one of the highlights of the tour.  I am excited to grow my partnership with Ryan and the rest of our band.  I am stoked to see what the future has in store for us as a musical team.



SoCal Tour: House Concert in Rowland Heights

August 23rd, 2015

On Thursday of this week,  my music partner and collaborator Ryan Avery and I shoved off on our tour to Southern California.    This is a big deal for me because, while Weed & Wildflowers is my second solo album, this is my first official music tour.   I have to admit that, as excited as I am to be on the road, it’s a bit terrifying.

The decision to go on tour was made relatively recently so we had no time to waste with planning.   We spent the better part of the last few months cramming our calendar with as many gigs as we could and gratefully accepting the support and assistance of our friends and family whenever offered.

Ryan is a human encyclopedia when it comes to budgeting, planning and marketing for these kinds of things.  Being the main brain behind the Violin Electronic act Chance’s End, he has been doing this music thing far longer than I have.  In fact,  he’s sharing his knowledge in case any of you fine folks are considering a tour of your own.

Needless to say, I was put to work immediately with venue soliciting, contacting radio stations and local publications to see if they would add us to their event listing pages.   This kind of work is time consuming and generally met with a bunch of radio silence.  It would be entirely discouraging if we didn’t receive any feedback at all.  However,  it did make those instances that we received a genial ” Sure!  What are the deets?” all the more rewarding.

Our first stop on this trip was what Ryan calls a “Keystone Gig.”  This event is generally the reason for the tour as it tends to provide the heaviest turnout.  The rest of the tour is typically built around it along the way.

Our keystone gig on this trip was a house concert at the home of my aunt and uncle.  They are some of my (and the entire family’s) biggest supporters and are geniuses at creating a genuine buzz of excitement and joy wherever they go.  Needless to say, they put on a stellar party.

Because Ryan and I are still expanding our reach as an acoustic duo, opportunities like these are golden.   There were roughly 60 people in attendance, almost none of whom had ever seen us perform a live show.

I would say that, given the number of years Ryan and I have performed together and that house concerts are kind of our jam, we brought a very fine performance to our crowd.  We sold a number of CDs and collected a lovely set of contacts for our mailing list.  There was even talk of making this an annual event.  I would consider that a roaring success for our punchy little band.

I want to say that I am extraordinarily lucky.  I have a motivated and talented partner who believes in the music we make.  I have an exceptionally supportive family who goes out of their way to showcase us and provide a hub for our travels.  Without these people in my life, this journey would have a much bumpier road under it.

It is situations like these wherein I am reminded of how absolutely blessed I am.
Next stop on tour is house concert number 2!  Wish us luck!

2015 SoCal tour Aug 22-30!

August 8th, 2015

Guess what? I’m going on tour!

From August 22-30, we’ll be headed to Los Angeles with several stops along the way. I’ll be dragging my violinist Ryan Avery along with me, so come say hi to us. We’re looking forward to performing for all of you!

No shows listed at the moment.

Emily Zisman and The Day Is Done at the Firehouse Arts Center in Pleasanton

August 1st, 2015

Hey Folks!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted much on the site, but there is  a good reason!    Ryan and I have been busying ourselves with planning and rehearsing for our first Southern California tour about which I will share more very soon.

But FIRST! We’ve got a SUPER exciting gig just around the corner for which we’ve been making ourselves all bright and shiny.    This will be a chance to see the whole band in action!  If you’ve been meaning to make it out to one of my shows, this would be the show for you! 2015-08-08-Firehouse The Firehouse is an amazingly cozy venue with stellar sound nestled within a loving, supportive community.   We will be the featured act for the evening.  But be sure to come early for a good seat and to catch the opening acts, Maddy Hudson and Shanth Gopalswamy.

Maddy Hudson was a past contestant on American Idol and managed to make Jennifer Lopez cry with he voice (my kind of singer!)  check out the clip here.

No shows listed at the moment.

Mark your calendars and we hope to see you next week!


Interview with Marketplace Senior Tech Correspondent Molly Wood

June 10th, 2015

Hey folks! I was fortunate enough to catch Molly Wood in a rare moment of respite. We shared a glass of wine (I always wondered about that phrase…we each had our own glass, so did we truely share a glass? Meh…) and I picked her brain about her adventures in the world of tech journalism. Come on along!