10th Anniversary Holiday Tour

10th Anniversary Holiday Tour

Media Notice


Photos Available Online at www.SimpleGiftsMusic.net/press-photos

Contact: Martin Keller, Media Savant Communications Co.

612-729-8585/ kelmart@aol.com




TWIN CITIES — What’s rare and worth celebrating at Christmas this year? The peaceful sounds of traditional Christmas carols and hymns sung in angelic three-part harmonies and played on acoustic instruments — and the 10th year anniversary of SimpleGifts (www.simplegiftsmusic.net).
The lovely six-piece ensemble with four Christmas albums over 10 years — and also featuring Billy McLaughlin — is playing 10 dates in the metro area and five concerts outstate this season, running from November 23 to December 23, 2012. SEE SCHEDULE BELOW.
Of all the bustling musical fare offered every holiday season, SimpleGifts stays closet to the heart of Christmas by avoiding commercial and pop holiday repertoire, a trademark of this award-winning group. The 2012 holiday concert season features music from all four SimpleGifts CDs, including Joy to the World, O Come All Ye Faithful, The Cherry Tree Carol, Wexford Carol and their most stunning original piece, the a cappella composition Oh Mary.

  • November 23:                       Bloomington Center for the Arts
  • November 30:                       Three Crows (Delano)
  • December-7-8                       St. Stephan Lutheran Church  (Bloomington)
  • December 15:                        St. Michael/Albertville High School of Fine Arts Auditorium
  • December 18:                        Lakeville Area Arts Center
  • December 20,21,22, 23:      Marine-on-St. Croix Town Hall


  • November 29:                       Newhall Auditorium, Shatluck St. Mary’s School (Fairbault)
  • December 1:                          Crossings at Carnegie (Zumbrota)
  • December 13:                        Historic Paramount Theatre (Austin)
  • December 14:                        Memorial Auditorium (Worthington)
  • December 19:                        Sacred Heart Music Center (Duluth)

As the holidays approach, the 2012 SimpleGifts Holiday Concert Tour includes your location.
Simple Gifts concerts feature music from the group’s four acclaimed albums:

  • 2010 — The Star Carol
  • 2009 —A Small Town Christmas
  • 2007 —  Of Shepherds & Angels
  • 2002 —  A Simple Gift
  • Video Sample of SimpleGifts in Concert: http://simplegiftsmusic.net/samples.html
  •  Sample the simplistic richness of the SimpleGifts Christmas:

      Songbook: http://simplegiftsmusic.net/samples.html

 10th Annual Holiday Season

There is nothing ordinary about the arrangements this inspired team of musicians delivers both in the studio and in concert.  Seen by more than 20,000 live audience members last season, the special group continues to grow in popularity throughout the Upper Midwest and has successfully transitioned from their early days in coffeehouses and small listening rooms to prestigious performing art centers and larger churches.
About Simple Gifts
SimpleGifts is made up of internationally recognized award-winning instrumentalists and vocalists with impressive resumes:
Billy McLaughlin (acoustic guitar/producer) is recognized internationally as a composer and virtuoso performer. He is a 5-time MN Music Award winner and 3-time NACA National Campus Entertainer of the Year (jazz/acoustic) with Billboard Top-Ten Chart experience. He recently made a remarkable comeback from a devastating neuro-muscular disorder called focal dystonia as captured in the award-winning documentary Changing Keys seen throughout MN on PBS. He is the 2010 AAN Public Leadership in Neurology Award-winner whose previous recipients include Michael J. Fox, Julie Andrews and Paul Allen.
Karen Paurus (vocals) is a MN Music Award winner for Best Female Vocalist and has been featured on Prairie Home Companion. She is a regular at the Fitzgerald Theater “Stage Sessions” and has been heard on MPR, Cities 97, Radio K and stations around the nation. She is a composer and recording artist whose latest CD Passion, Prayer and Poison is available on iTunes and CDBaby.
Laura McKenzie (Celtic whistles/bagpipes) With ardent mastery, Laura performs music from Ireland, Scotland, Central France, Galicia, Cape Breton and Minnesota on a splendid array of wind-powered instruments and voice. She has received an abundance of honors and awards in traditional music, including being selected for the original Cherish the Ladies series, featuring noted women in Irish music in America; recognition as a Master Folk Artist by the Minnesota State Arts Board; an Archibald Bush Foundation Fellowship in Traditional and Ethnic Performing Arts; and most recently, winner of a 2012-2013 McKnight Artists Fellowship for Performing Musicians. She can be heard on a multitude of recordings and on several documentaries.
Heather Garborg (vocals/piano/violin) was born into a musical family in Bloomington, MN and grew up participating in competitions on both piano and violin. She holds a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from St. Olaf College and recently returned from Nashville where she expanded her songwriting and recording credits. She is very active in the music ministry at Woodland Hills Church in the Twin Cities.
Carin Vagle (vocals/melodica) grew up performing music in a Minneapolis family with parents who were recording artists and touring musicians. Her study of healing voice led her to India and Brazil and she currently practices and teaches Yogic vocal techniques in the Twin Cities. Her first solo CD will be released soon.
Billy “O” Oehrlein (percussion) has shared the stage with everyone from The Oak Ridge Boys and Marie Osmond to Randy Travis and Alabama. He began performing on drums, percussion, and vocals in his teen years and has been a professional musician ever since touring nationally and across Europe. He decorates each song with his very own style of playing that he calls “ornamental-percussion”. Can you tell he’s having fun?
To schedule an advance interview — or an advance performance if possible — please contact Martin Keller, Media Savant Communications Co., 612-729-8585, kelmart@aol.com


Join the SimpleGifts Email List


25th Anniversary Concert

Twin Cities Public Television


Minneapolis, MN —

February 15, 2013

25th Anniversary Concert

“Come and enjoy guitarist and composer Billy McLaughlin with his special guests the Eclectric String Quartet at the O’Shaughnessy as he astounds audiences with the complex, rhythmic, music that he re-taught to himself against all odds. Billy had been playing for twenty years before being diagnosed with Focal Dystonia, an incurable neuromuscular disease that rendered him unable to play his own music. By 2002, he thought his career was over. But in 2006, he began doing the unthinkable–relearning his songs left handed. Now, McLaughlin is once again astonishing audiences with both his story and his music.”


Click here to view photos from event.


Road to Reinvention

Coming soon,
a new book by Billy McLaughlin…

“Road to Reinvention: Reflections on Having, Losing and Receiving Infinitely More”

RESERVE YOUR COPY Sign up today.
Travel with Billy on an unbelievable journey as he shares insights from being one of Billboard’s top-ranking performers to his overnight fall from fame as dystonia derails his musical career to his amazing return to the stage, where he proves that you must never give up on your dreams, no matter what.
This book is especially for you if…

  • You’ve faced life challenges, whether in your career, health, money or relationships
  • You are ready to push the limits of your potential, but not certain where start
  • You are seeking inspiration for pursuing your highest goal or dream.

Gain strength and guidance from someone who’s triumphed over the impossible.

Despite overwhelming odds, Billy maintains a perspective of love, understanding and even humor as he captures some of the most dramatic moments of his life in words. With an unrelenting spirit and clear sense of self identity, he proves that it is possible to achieve new heights in the face of defeat. Through it all he remains humble and deeply grateful for the adventure. RESERVE YOUR COPY


Check out this incredible venue at http://www.thefrogpondatbluemoonfarm.com/

Blue Moon Farm presents… Billy McLaughlin and Roman Street.  Billy will head back to Mobile, Al for a November 11th concert at The Frog Pond at Blue Moon Farms.

Interview with Jeff Glor

CBS News - The Early Show interviews Billy

CBS News – The Early Show with Jeff Glor

CBS producer Bob Kozberg from the Los Angeles office filmed and interviewed Billy and members of the audience at a recent concert in La Jolla, CA. Early Show anchorman Jeff Glor then flew to Minneapolis from New York to interview Billy one on one about a week later. The story will be airing nationally and focuses on overcoming adversity and Billy’s determination to regain his music and improve awareness of dystonia. As soon as CBS sets a date for airing the story we will post it on Billy’s homepage and send out an e-blast notification. Thank you CBS and especially Bob and Jeff for their part in getting Billy’s story out for the first time on network television!
Watch the full CBS story with Jeff Glor here.

Billy McLaughlin and executive director Kevin Langdon at ASMC event
Billy McLaughlin performed for the Apple Specialists Marketing Coop (ASMC) Fall Conference October 16. Billy is pictured here with ASMC Executive Director Kevin Langdon.
Billy McLaughlin performs at "Impairment without Disability" conference at the Mayo Clinic
On October 18, Billy was back in Minnesota presenting at the “Impairment without Disability” conference, which was held at Mayo Clinic.
Dr. Les Kertay, a clinical psychologist and writer, reported on Billy’s presentation at the conference at Mayo. Read Dr. Kertay’s article about Billy, “A Fortune Cookie – Friday’s Life Lesson.”

Billy McLaughlin on Minnesota Public Radio

Billy McLaughlin on Minnesota Public Radio

The Daily Circuit – MPR


Preceding the broadcast of Billy’s concert with Orchestra Nova on Twin Cities Public Television, Tom Weber from The Daily Circuit on Minnesota Public Radio, interviewed Billy and they discussed what relearning the guitar was like. Listen to the broadcast that aired October 19 on Minnesota Public Radio.

“In the 90s, guitarist and Minnesotan Billy McLaughlin was a rising star as one of his albums cracked the top 10 on Billboard.
But he slowly faded away from the spotlight. Not because people had grown tired of his music, but because McLaughlin had developed a baffling disorder called focal dystonia. If you’ve ever heard of writer’s cramp, that’s a form of dystonia.
McLaughlin’s “Starry Night” concert performance will air Saturday night and Sunday afternoon on Twin Cities Public Television.”
Continue to Tom Weber’s article, “Minnesotan Billy McLaughlin on dystonia and re-learning the guitar.”

blog's featured pic

The Gift of Reinvention

The Gift of Reinvention

To know the gift of reinvention is to know the pain of loss. For me, reinvention hasn’t always been a pleasant experience. It meant something in my life that I depended on was no longer working and I needed to find a way to fill the emptiness that it left behind. My experience with reinvention was born out of necessity and not desire. Over the course of a few years, I’ve had to reinvent the personal, professional, financial and even physical aspects of my life. A little-known neurological condition called focal dystonia took away everything that I thought defined my life when it impaired the use of the fingers on my fret-playing hand to the point where I could no longer play even the simplest melody.
For more than twenty years, I had made it my purpose to be the best acoustic guitarist and composer I could possibly be. I was getting along pretty well—having made it onto Billboard’s top-10 list with my first solo album. I had built my career, reputation and record deals around my unique style and sound. Over the years, as my profession grew, a lot of people came to depend on me including my family, band, booking agent, clients and fans. If you told me at the time that something could come along and wipe all of it away in a matter of months, I would not have believed you. However, that is exactly what happened. As a result of my sudden affliction with dystonia, my ability to play, my record deal, my gigs, my fans, my career, reputation, income, home and family life all disappeared in less than a year.
The Gift of Reinvention

The Gift of Reinvention

Having every comfort I had ever known stripped away from me so suddenly and permanently was a harsh reality. The experience, however, taught me something very revealing: There was a distinction between who I was versus what I had. I learned that sometimes the things we accomplish in the past get in the way of who we are and where we are headed. I believe this is true for individuals as well as for businesses. For me, it meant that I needed to let go of what no longer worked in my life. By letting go, I found my strengths and, in fact, I found my voice. I learned that not only was there music inside of me to share; there also was a story. Without the experience, I would never have known how much more deeply people would grow appreciate my music now that they were able to understand the story behind it. I would never have known how much the lessons in my life could inspire others to follow their dreams and overcome what they perceived to be impossible. That is why I often say, “The worst thing that ever happened to me has also turned out to be the best thing that had ever happened.”
In my case, I had no choice but to learn how to let go of the past and reinvent the future. The same is true for lots of people. The loss of a business, a marriage or a family member can happen unexpectedly and permanently change the course of people’s lives. For others, letting go of what’s broken is not so crystal clear because a choice still lingers. Business may drop off, but not disappear altogether. A person may have a valuable skill, but lose the desire to use it. The remnants of a relationship may remain intact, but the connection may have weakened. Memories overshadow what is yet to become and old habits occupy the time and space where new action is needed. Instead of rebuilding systems that no longer work, people often look for ways to repair and preserve them. In the process, they miss the beauty of what will happen next.
This is one of the reasons why I am an advocate of arts education. Artists are familiar with the idea of reinvention. In fact, they live it every day. When artists create, regardless of whether they’re creating music, a play or a painting, they follow the creative process from beginning to end. Since artists live to create, they are driven to reinvent over and over again. Each new creation presents a new challenge that involves seeing whether or not their vision will come to life. Learning the art of reinvention is something that can improve life on many levels. It keeps us from clinging too tightly to past accomplishments and comforts, which can get in the way of unfinished dreams and desires. It also helps us to adapt to changing circumstances around us. Even today, my dystonia is as bad as ever. Had I not learned how to adapt, and play guitar left-handed, my musical career may have disappeared completely.
The Gift of Reinvention

The Gift of Reinvention

Every time I step onto the stage, I thank God for the gift of reinvention and my ability to perform once again. I know better than to let myself get too comfortable with the idea, however. My doctors have told me that dystonia could also attack my “good” hand some day. If that day ever comes, I will be better prepared to deal with the situation, as reinvention has become a way of life for me. With it, there will always be the promise of a new beginning.