drivin! cover

Cover photography by anonymous friend in Fairfield, Iowa. Hey, if you took this photo, let Kathleen know!

Downloadable liner notes here, suitable for printing. Just in case you don’t want to read them online.

Drivin’! is a collection of exuberant, sometimes driving, often bluesy, and yes, even (once or twice) mellow piano solos. I dedicate this album to my friend Sandie, who was the first person in my life who did not back away from my rambunctiousness; who in fact was the very model of high spirits. I think this is the CD she’ll like best! Complete credits & thanks here.

Drivin’! may be purchased here.

Tracks on Drivin’!:

Complete with Angels

Which is how life and music are given to us.


This is a piece written by my car (my first car, the little red Toyota Tercel that considered itself to be a sports car). Back in the day, when my solo performing career was just getting off the ground, I hit the first composing dry spell of my entire life. As I am certainly not prone to exaggeration or wild mood swings, I naturally knew that never again would I compose another piece of music; and, needless to say, I found that a bit depressing. While driving home from a gig, through the Iowa vastness, I was brooding over the loss of my fledgling career as a musician, when I noticed that my car’s odometer read 22122. I have always loved symmetric numbers! And I quickly realized that 22122 can be notes of the scale, say D-D-C-D-D. I listened to that, then saw that the odometer had turned over to 22123: D-D-C-D-E. The rest, as they say, is history. Oh, the total stops (rests) near the beginning are stop signs; you’ll find several in every midwestern town you are wishing you could speed through! I should also say (because my first car would like me to): whenever in this piece I was a bit stuck for music, all I had to do was get out on the open road and drive a bit and more music would come. Which is the other reason I say the piece was written by my car. The music travels through a landscape that is totally unexpected, before having a mellow time in the big city that night. (Again, true to life on the road in my first car.)

Meanwhile on Foot

Compositions are like children to me: they’re all my favorites. But I have to say, this one holds a very special place in my heart. For one thing, it’s just weird. Doesn’t end on the “right” notes. Has a great walking pace and luscious parallel seventh chords. Is not likely to be anyone else’s favorite piece, ever: my quirky, funny, lovable, strange child. I love to play it. Also: I only recently (ie, after recording it) realized that the “A” section of Meanwhile, On Foot is a perfect 12-bar blues. The chords are inverted, and flat 2 substitutes for 4, and so I’ve been playing this piece for ages without noticing what it was. A touch embarrassing, that is!

Missy Kara Surveys the Pasture, Lays Claim

Which has an entire story when I perform it live, especially fun when the audience is new to my music and therefore has not a single clue what I’m talking about. But for here, let me just say that it is as much a portrait of my friend Sandie as it is of her horse, and also that Sandie commanded me to create this piece of music as her birthday present (truly: she bounced into my home and announced that she had figured out exactly what I was to give her for her birthday); and that pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the lady & the mare both. Oh, one more thing: I like to call this piece “a tacky little end of the millenium salon piece” and it quotes a scarily well-known opera aria, just for a moment or two.

It’s Liquid, Though

My homage to the music of George Gershwin; and my deepest thanks to Nancy who, inadvertently but brilliantly, gave me the title.

Blue Paradise

“Not much happens around here, but what does is pretty good.” Of course, that is closely related to, “Not much happens in a small town, but what you hear makes up for it.”

Lazy K

A portrait of my favorite cowboy. The K of the title is me; I “stole” the chord progression from a song I don’t ever plan to sing in public and turned it into a piano piece that I hope is heard by everyone in the whole world!

Sweet Home Chicago

Robert Johnson’s blues classic meets classical piano technique, and I very much hope that the result is as much fun for you as it is for the player.

The Donkey Drag (Mr Darcy’s Lament)

This is a musical portrait of my donkey, who does not like taking walks on a lead rope. (He loves taking walks; but the lead rope part, not so much. Mr Darcy is a free donkey.) The music includes everything Darcy does — he runs, he kicks (playfully, of course), he brays, and then ...

he stops. When Darcy stops, I do too. Of course. This 12-bar blues reveals the donkey in high spirits and fun ensues.


Composed by the incredible George Gershwin, whose Rhapsody in Blue was the reason I learned to play piano.

Spare Change

A little high-energy something that I expected to turn into something more, or something else; and when it didn’t, I decided it was a bit of spare change.

The Golden Passage

Energy — Movement — Friendship — Music! (Oh, and this is the one that has a teeny touch of Schubert in it.)

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