i am sitting on the starboard
of your only way
back home


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Friday, August 31, 2007

My Credo

Alan Paine Radebaugh is friend of mine who happens to be a kickbutt artist and good at just about anything he touches, so he makes jewelry and composes music when he's not like...painting fantastic things. Check out his website, you'll see.

Anyway, I got my hot little hands on a copy of Alan's latest musical composition (probably because I'm special), and he begins with a Credo -- a short and sweet statement of what he believes in. It's beautiful.

I wrote to tell him so, and that I thought it would be a good idea for every artist to begin their albums with their current life's Credo. And since it is 2 AM, I added in what my current Credo would be:
I will not get tired of rice and beans
Well maybe I will
But that's ok, I need to buy gear.

Right. Not going on the new album. But I do have a real song I have been working on lately that I think might be my Credo. It goes like this:

Put a new star on the flag
For this brand new state I'm in
It came in messy like a flood
It's going down sweet like cinnamon

And from here on out, this is how I am

I am constantly in free fall
Thanks to gravity and tides and words
And the only one that gives me any weight at all
Are the words

And from here on out, this is how I am

It's not done, but I hope it will be some day.

What's your Credo?

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Terri Hendrix @ Waterloo Records

The Spiritual Kind...

Terri and Lloyd

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I (heart) Southwest Airlines

After my parents flew last week on an airline that shall remain nameless (except it perhaps maybe rhymes with "Unrequited Hairlines") and had a horrible experience going and coming (missing connections due to late planes, being ignored by customer service when the missed connection became a problem, waiting around a LOT, etc.)...I had some trepidations about flying this weekend. All went well going to Albuquerque, but when I got to the airport to fly back to Austin, I noticed that my plane was going to leave 30 minutes late. That would be cool except I knew I had only 25 minutes to catch my connection in Dallas. 25 minus 30 is -5, and I'm no Mathematics major, but I am pretty sure I can't get off a plane and find my new gate and board in -5 minutes.

So, with a slightly heightened sense of panic, I approach the ticket counter and explain the situation. The Southwest representative was very nice, typed in her magic numbers, gave me a boarding pass for a new flight, told me to get to gate A7..."and don't get off the plane in Midland!" (I'm sure Midland is a very nice town but I had places to be...maybe when there is more time for leisure I'll get off the plane in Midland). So I get through security and get to gate A7 which is empty, and a couple of Southwest gate agents say, "Are you Jana?" I say yes. They say, "YAY! Get on the plane! And have fun in Austin!" Haha. So not only did I get a direct flight to Austin, but they held the plane for me. That's customer service.

I'm back in Austin for a spell.

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Relax? What?

Wanna buy a CD? Do ya?

It's been a good weekend. I had a heckuva fun time at the gig on Friday night with Katie, Scott, and Amanda. I had a coconut latte. We all sang or played on other people's songs. I got to pretend I was a lead guitarist for the night, learning a thing or two from Scott. Also I read the paper while "guarding" the tip jar, hehheh.

Then I flew to Albuquerque...well, I'm still here. Saw some good buddies, ate some good food, and J and I filmed a bit in his office/studio. Perhaps a new video blog post will pop up this week! We're pretty excited for this last couple of months of the year (we end our year in November because we can) and it'll be some hard work but...well, it's better than not working hard. Or something. It's late. I'm not coherent.

So anyway, I'm currently baking pecan scones for my life guru Karen because she deserves them, and we have a breakfast "meeting" tomorrow. Then it's back to Austin for the next round. Perhaps another airport blog post will be in order, eh?

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

j.Po Thots: Songwriting Frequencies

Tuned in...or trying to be.

Greetings from the Dallas airport. I have watched 2 flights depart to Albuquerque, but apparently am not cool enough to be on either of them...hence I wait. And blog.

I've heard many theories and explanations of how one writes a song, and I think two things hinder any kind of concrete study:
a) it's different for everyone (how cliche, but true)
b) most of the time, songwriters don't know where the heck it comes from anyway.

Well, I mean...there's the "formula song" made for radio that is polished and henpecked into perfection. That's an art unto itself and I don't take issue. I would like to try doing that sometime, though it might make me cry on the first thousand attempts.

Then there's that...other thing. The muse? The subconscious? Luck? The other day I was doing some really repetitive tasks, assembling packets of paper. Large ones. I have the paper cuts to prove it. I'm thinking along, minding my own business, when this line pops into my head. It was a pretty cool line.

Now, I've had this happen enough at this point to know I need to stop and write it down or Jott it to myself (a great service for leaving yourself voicemail notes and things -- it transcribes them for you and sends them to your email! Or you can listen like a normal voicemail. Or you can download thesound file online. Jott is golden...but I digress). So I grabbed a pencil and scrawled it and went along my merry way. That line, from where I'll never know, is currently sitting as the first line of my new song, which is a pretty big responsibility for a line.

BUT WHERE DID IT COME FROM? Why did it hit me then? I always quote Mary Chapin Carpenter, who was quoting Bill Monroe when she said she kind of picks songs "out of the air." I always loved that analogy.

I've adapted it to my own brain, and lately I've been trying to write more...but when the songs are out there and I am here...what does "write more" mean? I've decided I'm like a radio, and my writer's brain can learn to scan frequencies. Now, the more frequencies you can scan the better, so that means I need to be constantly exposing myself to other forms of art and stimuli of that nature...different genres, new writers, the whole shebang.

But it's not just the purposeful scan that brings up those good first lines. It's kind of being in tune to the scan...at all times. When you're driving, when you're assembling large amounts of paper together, when you're taking a walk or writing an email. I do think that as a writer, I am learning to be more in tune with the scanning for a larger amount of time. Maybe one day I'll be adept at plucking those gems out of the air like Bill Monroe and MCC.

Or perhaps I am just hearing voices, hehhehheh.

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Terri Hendrix is My Kind of Spiritual Kind

Terri Hendrix's "The Spiritual Kind" is officially released next week, complete with Free Beer at Waterloo Records (you know I'd be there without the beer, even, haha) next Tuesday! I pre-ordered it and have been enjoying it since June. What a fine album. What a fine folk - country - jazz - swing - singer - songwriter album. Terri's like that...you think you have her pegged with one genre and she throws a swing tune full of scat-happy...scatness at you (can you tell I'm not a musicologist?) right after a straight up folk Guthrie cover.

I discovered Terri in college when I realized Texas was home to many a fine songwriter and she was one of the most notable. She's a multi-instrumentalist...songwriter...Grammy winner...you know, the usual, hehheh. She has released eight albums in 10 years...on her own label, Wilory Records. ON HER OWN LABEL, KIDS! It's all hip and cool to be indie nowadays, but Terri was indie before most people even knew what it meant. Back when the kids were still buying Backstreet Boys albums from the Giant Record Company in the Sky because they knew no better. So anyway, as a sophomore in college with about...6 whole unpolished pieces of wannabe-song under my belt, I saw Terri play in the basement of a Presbyterian Church (really cool venue, actually) in Albuquerque. And at the push-and-shoving of my friend Lisa, I gave Terri a copy of my demo. Like, made in my bedroom demo. Like, I-don't-know-what-I'm-doing-demo.

And she was the coolest, and she said she'd listen to it, and then a few days later I got an email with the kindest words of encouragement from one of my favorite songwriters. It made my semester, I think. Terri's that kind of good people. I still have that email.

So in the past couple of years, Terri's business sense, wherewithal, and plain old kickbutt work ethic have been an inspiration and a map for J and I in our journey while we build our business. Terri also does a most excellent thing with her business partner and longtime guitarist/mandolinist/whatever-else-ist Lloyd Maines called the Life's A Song Workshop. It's a whole weekend to hang out with a small group of songwriters and Terri and Lloyd, soaking in their mad skillz and insights. I'm pretty excited to say that in October, I'll be attending my first Life's A Song. October cannot come fast enough.

Anyway, that also speaks to the future J and I want to build in the music business...we think education is essential. Sharing our knowledge so others can build on it is the way of a good civilization, and things like Life's A Song are great road maps.

So thanks, Terri, for all your hard work, inspiration, and your great music!

Come hang out at Waterloo Records on Tuesday, August 28th or at the Nutty Brown on August 31st.


Buy Terri's Albums, including the new one...direct from Wilory Records! Just do it. She'll sign stuff for ya, too.

Terri's Myspace has full songs up for preview, including one of my current favorites, Soul of My Soul.

Subscribe to Terri's Goatnotes, because she tours all over and will probably come to your area soon...and they are full of awesome words of wisdom. Yo.

Check out this video: Terri Hendrix: "Breakdown"

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"We are all spiritual beings having a human experience." - Terri Hendrix

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Katie Lessley is da Bomb

That's me and my friend Katie. We like to play in the sandbox at the park, eat pudding, and watch old episodes of 321 Contact. Just kidding. But we do hang out. Or I tag along when Katie does something exciting, anyway.

I am pretty sure that playing with Katie Lessley was my first "shared" gig here in Austin. We would take over Genuine Joe's for the night and have a jamboree. Sometimes Katie would go first, sometimes I would go first, sometimes we'd have a fight in the corner over who would go first which would always end up in broken cardboard coffee cups and spilled Torani coconut syrup. Then we'd always accuse each other of dividing up the tips unevenly and we'd threaten to "take it out back" which meant moving to the other side of the room.

We only did that for dramatic effect to win fans, of course. Actually, we never did that, but it might be kinda cool to try. Note that, Katie: Fake a fistfight for added gig drama.

Anyway, Katie not only has a fine sense of humor and fabulous hummus making skills, but she also has a set of pipes that will knock you over and then stand you on your feet again. It's pure, it's soulful, it's just plain Katie.

Listen to Katie sing in all her fabulousness on her Myspace page!

Also, we'll be sharing the stage together again (it's been a while) THIS FRIDAY at It's A Grind on Parmer Lane. See the Calendar for specs.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Meet the Producer: Pike Place Market

No, not the album producer, haha. Pike Place Market in Seattle turns 100 this week! Since it's one of my most favorite places on the planet, a Birthday post is in order. I go there every time I'm in Seattle where my sister and her family live, sometimes multiple times just to hang out and take in the scenery.

There are the famous fish flingers...

the freshest peaches and berries and every kind of vegetable you could think of trying...

rows and rows of fresh flowers, local blackberry honey for the tasting, dried apricots by the bag, and a tea store tucked in with the stalls housing every type of plant you can steep in hot water imagineable.

Street musicians and performers dot the sidewalks and add color to the grey street on grey sky motif...

Across the street from the market is a bakery that sells pumpkin cookies as big as my head (and my head is pretty big, kids)...and down the way is the first Starbucks ever. The flagship store. The little coffeehouse that people hung out in after buying their strawberries and apples and bing cherries.

One of my favorite moments ever was outside of that Starbucks. I had just bought a latte and was about to head over to the flower stalls for a look, and a big man was preaching on the sidewalk with a booming voice. He had a kindness about him and clearly a joy radiated from him because he loved telling people about God. I told him to have a good day because he made me happy, and he stops me. He asks me my name, and he says, "Jana...God is talking to me right now. God says this year is your year. I don't know what he has in store for you, but he is going to bless you beyond your wildest imagination." It was like busting open a fortune cookie on the sidewalk, I swear. That was last year, and 2006 turned out to be a pretty good one. Not a cakewalk, by any means...but a good one. So has 2007. I'd like to think if I ran into him again, in any year, that preacher on the sidewalk would tell me the same thing. That's kind of nice.

Happy Birthday, Pike Place! Here's to 100 More.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

What's suSANG up to?

So some of you had the extreme joy and pleasure of seeing a bunch of Susan Gibson shows all in a row in New Mexico this past May...and got to know her well. Others of you, maybe more on the Texas side...see Susan around gigging because, well...that's what she does. It's great.

My point is...go see a show (here is her tour page). And for you New Mexicans...Suz will be up in Taos on September 7th, and since I am "stuck" here in Austin (laaame haha)...you need to represent, yo.

Here's a filming of the song "Cactus" from outside the Very Large Array in May. Cheers.

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Saturday, August 18, 2007


Today I plan on getting up earlyish and walking over to Central Market, whereupon they will have bins of green chile waiting for me (I am technically posting this Friday night...hence I have not woken up yet in Blog Land? Weird). Then I will bring them home and roast them in my firepit. I mean, oven. I eat these suckers plain and unadorned, but they go well with just about anything besides my morning cereal. Not for lack of trying. Ask my college roommate.

Anyway...I've been thinking about the new record and what it's going to BE. What is this piece of musical expression going to do for the world? Why will it matter that it exists instead of me making perhaps...a pie? Or a sweater? What is the theme?

I don't know what all the songs are about yet because some of them haven't been born, but I decided today, in traffic, listening to NPR, that I want it to be a Moment Album. I want each song to capture a specific place and time and scene and moment. I want you all to be able to breathe that in, without it feeling foreign to you. I want you to have it seem so familiar that it was like you wrote the song, even with all its specificity. I'm not sure how we're going to to do that, but it's nice to have a plan, hm?

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Ode to Ernest

In an effort to be more cultured, and to perhaps gain some inspiration, I am reading For Whom the Bell Tolls by Hemingway -- I am only on chapter 4, but so far so good. Dan the Professor and I are reading it in tandem...dare I say, "Book Club"? No, that's too...it's just too...Oprah-y. Ernest is all about trekking around seeing sunsets and blowing up bridges, not Oprah. (I love you, Oprah, no worries). Anyway, Dan and I thought we might have a shot at finishing the book if a little healthy competition and discussion was involved. So far, so good.

Although reading a lot of words is kind of making me not want to write them at the moment. :)

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

What Is Going On

Walk this way to the Public Market...for some news.

I realized I've posted lots about other artists this week and I guess a little update is due. I will officially announce this, I guess.

There's going to be a new album.

Which, really...is inevitable. It might take 3 months or 18 months. ;) But, the point is...the "little songlets" are being born, a producer (who is not me -- you'll meet him soon enough) is on board, and things are all go. I'm excited to keep you all posted on the process and the blood, sweat, and Cheetos likely to be consumed. (Vegan Cheetos. Actually, I don't even like Cheetos. I like pretzels).

Thus ends the Official Announcement. Czech it.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Lori McKenna: Singer, Songwriter, Wife, Mother

I've known about Lori McKenna for a long time...she's a great songwriter, and she's had some excellent singers cover her material. Faith Hill is a fan. Sara Evans and Mandy Moore have cut some Lori tracks, too. Lots of people have.

Her new CD, "Unglamorous," is available for download this week, and this video shows...just what a cool PERSON Lori is! Five kids, a house in Massachusetts, and worrying about who will pick the kids up from school when Faith Hill asks her to be on Oprah. That's my kind of folk.

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j.Po Thots: Stuff vs. Experience

The Thinkers at UNM
Two heads are better than one.

Paul Graham wrote an awesome essay about Stuff. It kind of pertains to my thoughts about living in a small space...actually it sums up a lot of what I have been thinking lately. I am a Stuff Acquirer. Less so now than I used to be, but I still have my quirks. One day there was a giant corkboard outside by the dumpster fence...you know, in that place that people who are moving out put things because they don't want to throw them away. It's huge. It was blank. I like blank things, because it means I can cover them with stuff. I hauled it upstairs.

That was in June. It's still sitting there in my apartment...bare. Mostly because there's no good place to hang it. It's that big. I'd have to rearrange my artfully placed photos and Mary Chapin Carpenter tour poster, haha. So...I'll probably haul it back down to the dumpster one day, and someone else with big dreams and a year to plan can pick it up.

Silliness, huh? I've got shirts I bought at the thrift store that I never really wear. I've got books I don't read. Pots and pans I don't cook with. Humans are full of that "One Day..." syndrome. One day I might need this, one day someone might need to borrow that. In the meantime my studio starts to look like a museum and the number of items I actually TOUCH in it...as in...use on a weekly basis...is low. The most horrifying quote in Graham's essay to me is this one:

"I know of one couple who couldn't retire to the town they preferred because they couldn't afford a place there big enough for all their stuff. Their house isn't theirs; it's their stuff's."

Whoa. That's my idea of a nightmare. "Man, I'd really like to go live in Seattle now but I can't afford to move this china hutch and my collection of Peter, Paul, and Mary records that I will totally listen to once I get a record player." should never hold you back from experience. Experience builds you up as a person, stuff does not.

And there's an article on Wise Bread about uncluttering that makes the excellent point that
less stuff = clearer head. I feel great when I can see my floor. Wise Bread also makes the point that once you clear out some of the things you don't need, the next challenge is to...NOT BUY MORE.

Oh, crap. What's better than spending a Saturday afternoon buying a CD or two at Waterloo (guilty: just bought The Weepies disc), heading over to Book People "just to browse," (guilty: new Hemingway tome), and winding it all up with a quick browse through Whole Foods? Curse you, 6th and Lamar in Downtown Austin and your pleasantly walkable shopping district! It's all about the experience, I guess. But who's to say I can't go listen to a whole CD at Waterloo without buying -- they let you do that -- then go page through a book or a magazine at Book People -- they let you do that, too, in a comfy chair! -- and then people watch on the Whole Foods patio with oh, a grapefruit? (Still on that grapefruit kick, kids). That would cost me $0.59 total instead of...well, like $50.00. Brilliant. And then there's nothing to store in my already clogged apartment, either. Baby steps, people. Baby steps.

This is all part of a Larger Plan...that is still being, well...planned. But you can bet it'll get blogged about. In the meantime, we're just pondering. Ponder with me.

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Monday, August 13, 2007

A Key to Songwriting: Marshmallows in a Field

Over at the Nancyland blog, I discovered some enchanting photos of marshmallow harvesting as well as an insight into what the job of a songwriter is: it's to put two thoughts/pictures/ideas together that don't normally go together...and to have them relate to your life, or life as a whole. To make people go, "Huh. That makes sense." Or at least, as in the case of the marshmallows, be a dang cool image.

Some of my favorite images from songwriters I enjoy:

"The alarm still rings at 5:15; the day goes off like a rifle." - Kristyn Osborn (Love Goes On)

"Trying to make myself breathe, it's an emotional dry heave." - Susan Gibson (Anything to Keep From Crying)

"What can I compare you to? A window the sun shines through, or maybe the silver moon. A smile rising. The magic of a fading day, satellites on parade, a toast to the plans we've made to live like kings." - The Weepies (Take It From Me)

Tonight Joseph stood out in the yard, as Debussey played from the kitchen
Celestial companions 'til morning's first lark, shone overhead and he listened
And who was that shadow there by the gate, who was that there standing guard
It was only loneliness, and loneliness waits, and ideas are like stars."
- Mary Chapin Carpenter (Ideas Are Like Stars)

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Krapooyo by Yannick Puig

Sometimes it's nice to be reminded that we all have that Large Task of figuring out how we function in this world...some days we're just stumbling along, some days we find our wings.

Yannick's site: http://krapooyo.free.fr/

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Saturday, August 11, 2007

Road Trip Necessities :: To Timbuk2 and Back

I like to think I travel light...or that I can when I need to. Some people who have taken trips with me might argue that point...same with some of the people whose homes I have invaded and consequently exploded a plethora of stuff all over their guest bedrooms/living rooms/bathrooms/porches/garages/roofs. (Ok, I'm not that bad, really).

As I find myself traveling more, or just being..."not home" a lot, it is essential to have your tools with you all the time. I usually try and keep my writing notebook, calendar, planning notebook, and a good book with me at all times (currently it's For Whom the Bell Tolls....we're on chapter 2). Then I'll have maybe a spare press kit or two, some CDs to hand out when needed, and about 18 printouts of whatever project is being worked on between J and I (he designs, I tell him to change tiny little things, he doesn't complain...it's great!). And THEN there's all that general junk you need....phone...Moleskine notebook for my To Do list (check out that new Planner! SWEET!)...sometimes a camera.

Clearly your generic little girlie "purse" is not going to cut it. J introduced me to Timbuk2 bags a while ago, and I finally purchased one of my own thanks to a "big sale" and things like "half off" signs. Sweet.

Why do I like 'em? They virtually indestructible...they were originally made for bicycle messengers around San Francisco. They have just enough pockets but not too many. They're still made in San Francisco for the most part. They look really cool. I hope I'm still using my brown and burnt orange Timbuk2 bag in 10 years, and I bet it will be well traveled!

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Friday, August 10, 2007

j.Po Thots: Songs are like Grapefruit and Ketchup.

I have discovered the joys of grapefruit. Only this week, really. I have always thought them to be too tart or squishy or...off-color to be edible. They're not quite orange on the outside and inside they are what can best be described as a fleshy-pink. I always thought that anything that is pink and triggers my sour face was not worth my time.

However, browsing the produce aisle after having read an article about grapefruits being the Best Thing Ever and Full of Fiber and Nutrients and Other Things with Capital Letters...I caved.

And I liked it.

Where have you been all these years, grapefruit? Why have I not been sectioning off your tangy spheres of loveliness for the past two decades?

Then I decided that I wasn't ready before. The same thing has happened to me with coconut and rhubarb...both things used to make me scrunch up my face in that annoying kid-way (the "I just KNOW I don't like it, ok?" way) and refuse to eat whatever was baked by mom. Coconut had that weird texture to it (the way I was raised, coconut grows in little shreds as far as I'm concerned) and rhubarb? What IS it anyway? Again with the tartness, and the green color...that's not pie material, I thought. Now I can't get enough of either. (Coconut rhubarb pie? Interesting. Try it when I'm home, Mom!)

You know this is going somewhere, right? I'm no food blogger, even though I read a bunch (my favorites: poco-cocoa (a fellow Austin blogger), Vive Le Vegan!, Everybody Likes Sandwiches, and Don't Get Mad, Get Vegan). But I digress.

I think as a songwriter, you definitely grow into new realms and perhaps outgrow others. I got over hot dogs and Kraft singles cheese sandwiches because I found other things in the world that offer more taste and complexity. Song-wise right now, I can't even really stand to play some of my older songs. Some songs were written about a time and place so foreign (and maybe unpleasant to an extent) that I would not cry if I never played them again. But I will always take requests. :)

I also feel that right now, thanks to Red Leaf, thanks to living in Austin, thanks to having more time because I'm not in school...I am challenging myself in my writing and playing. Stretching those fingers as well as my lexicon (or sad lack thereof). It's a good thing, but it's a long process. Just like adapting your tongue to curry after ketchup...there's a learning curve but it's definitely worth it. After that...can you go back to ketchup? Can you re-visit old songs that aren't YOU anymore?

Sure. I think there's a time and a place for every song as a writer's library grows. Some grow with you, some are outgrown...but every now and then it's nice to have that documentation of a certain time in my life. And it's nice to go back...kind of like having a hot dog at a picnic on the lake in July. You wouldn't order it at a restaurant, but the hot dog is part of the overall experience. For the time being, as I work on writing more and prepping for a new record...you're going to get a tasty, tasty mixture of curry and ketchup my friends. Oh, and grapefruit. Ruby red.

(Photo courtesy of uncommonmuse!)

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Thursday, August 9, 2007

The Kindness of Strangers

Some of you might recall my whining about dropping my license downtown somewheres one weekend. I had never lost anything like that before, and it kind of weirded me out that my name and vitals were floating around Austin. It's been a few weeks and I had accepted that perhaps it had fallen into a crevice somewhere, or gotten run over 8000 times, or that maybe a bat had eaten it.

Yesterday I had an envelope in my mailbox from someone I did not know. Handwritten letters are rare these days. I thought it was one of those old skool chain letters that you have to copy the letter, buy 8 cases of pickles, and send it to 40 friends or die the next day.

Fortunately, I found the above note with my license attached. It was from Norma. I don't know who you are, Norma, but thanks for picking it up and mailing it back. My peace of mind has returned.

People are good.

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Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Who Am I?

Click to view my Personality Profile page

Photoessay No. 2: Carlsbad, NM

Cruising down the interstate
Friday: a quick 7 hour trip to Carlsbad, New Mexico to camp with the Friends.

Beautiful sunset in NM
You know you're in New Mexico when the sunsets are unbearably lovely.

Filler up!

Carlsbad Cavern
Saturday we went 750 feet underground and explored Carlsbad Cavern.

This is what it looks like when the campsite sprinklers go off at 1 AM
Note: Always check to see that the sprinklers are turned off at your KOA camp site.

Driving home in the Hill Country
Sunday's peaceful drive home through the Hill Country.

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Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Incandescently Lovely Shawn Colvin

I am just stewing in music lately, it's a good thing. Here's one of my favorite Shawn tunes from her newest album These Four Walls -- it's called "Tuff Kid." We're both South Dakota kids, Shawn and I. She lived in Vermillion, I was born in Aberdeen. I'd like to think it adds a certain Midwestern sensibility to writing a song. And makes you Tuff.

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Monday, August 6, 2007

The Weepies make me...well, weepy.

I love The Weepies! I was introduced to them by a friend and the minute the first chord played I was hooked. Deb Talan and Steve Tannen weave folky poppy gems of simple words with big impact. I love that. The hook to "Somebody Loved" is, "You turned me into somebody loved." There aren't any fancy words or entendres or metaphors there...it's just a brilliant thought. One that more people should think.

Check them out, and stream a bunch of the tracks from their new CD, "Say I Am You," on their website.

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Friday, August 3, 2007

To the Bat Cave!

Allow me a day or two of blogging/gigging/thinking reprieve whilst I hit the road to Carlsbad, NM. I will return refreshed for hijinx and we'll end this summer with a bang. Or a whistle. Or some sort of other weird noise.

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Thursday, August 2, 2007

I (heart) Kristyn Osborn

"The alarm still rings at 5:15 - the day goes off like a rifle." - KO

I have had a triumvirate of songwriting heroes for several years, one of them being Kristyn Osborn. She's a member of the group Shedaisy, who has (in my humble yet brazenly defended opinion) long been overlooked on the Nashville scene. They get labeled as "the OTHER girl trio" (as if there's only room for the Dixie Chicks), or "too pop for country" or "too pretty" or whatever. I mean, it's not like being "too pretty" is an issue unless you're being attacked by music critics. It's almost as bad as being "not pretty enough." (I hate the music business sometimes...but I digress).

Once one gets over the media stereotypes, it becomes clear that Kristyn is a songwriting powerhouse. I hate to speak in terms like this, but Kristyn is a rare writer who can mix thoughtful, purposeful words and music with...popular appeal. Shedaisy has had quite a bit of success in Nashville, and that's kind of rare among my list of favored writers.

I've had the joy of seeing Shedaisy live a couple of times; they always give a heartfelt show, and they have this sick sisterly harmony (did I mention they're all sisters?) thing going on that makes you want to burn all your musical instruments and take up sewing because you can't re-create a trio of harmoniousness when your sisters live in states far, far away and you didn't grow up singing together 23 hours a day, which is how I imagined it happened. And then there's the songwriting...which must be kind of weird but cool to have your siblings singing your songs. I don't know how I'd do with that, but Kassidy (the youngest of the three) always takes the lead vocal and makes it her own and it works. I'm not sure when the next project is set to be released, but do yourself a favor and pick up Knock on the Sky. It's one of my all time favorites of anything, and it's their sophomore album. You may have heard of the "sophomore slump" -- the pressure to surpass the goodness of a debut album (which theirs, The Whole Shebang...is good and did well commercially)...can make for some pretty awful 2nd albums. Knock on the Sky seemed to wipe the slate clean from the first CD (and the up-until-then "formula for success") and went in another direction entirely. The harmonies stayed, the instrumentation got stretched out, and the lyrics...well, I think this is Kristyn's most intense statement of where she was at while making an album that has been recorded.

I think it also appealed to me because...the vocabulary is stunning. For a record in general, and for a record out of NASHVILLE. Who uses intelligent words these days? It's "fishin'" and "willin" and any other "in'" because full on gerunds are not cool in Nashville. Then Shedaisy puts out stuff like this:

"you said, i bled / you meant, i went / overcomplicated / spent / love's a series of broken sentences / miscalculations reconciliations / seductive highs, destructive lows / words that fly too fast / feet that move too slow / wish i could dance outside this windowpane / oh i wish i were the rain" - I Wish I Were the Rain (KO)

Kristyn in Mescalero, NM
Kristyn (hearts) you back, see?

"this can't really be what life is all about / learning how to live just to live without / the travesty's the irony / and the irony is you / i've traded in my sanctity for a cheaper shade of blue / and as i surrender to this sunken bed / so afflicted by the tenant in my head / even now i wonder how you lay her down to sleep / when secretly you know it's my soul that you pray to keep / but will you really keep me

on your porch or on your tongue / beating in your chest or coming undone / folded neatly in the cover of your favorite book / keep me / at a distance in your maze / fumbling through a contemplative haze / or tucked away clandestinely where no one else will look / where my broken sky reaches to your velvet sea / will you keep me" - Keep Me (KO)

I know. Wordy. Intense. Thoughtful. Just a bit of word-love from one of my Triumvirate!

Here's a video of "Passenger Seat", a happy little romp witha Volkswagen. In the desert. It's just fun, ok?

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Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Baby J.Po

Jana's Musical Roots
As a toddler Jana would stay up late and wake up early, never changing out of her PJs, to compose massively complex compositions for organ. Unfortunately, due to her small stature, she could only reach the first row of keys.

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