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


follow janapochop at http://twitter.com

follow supermerchgirl at http://twitter.com


Subscribe in a reader

Jana Pochop
Jana Pochop
Promote Your Page Too

Join My Community at MyBloglog!
Add to Technorati Favorites
podsafe music network

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Artist Market+Rain=Interesting.

It was a lovely day to set up the Artist Market for the Pecan Street Festival...until it rained. A lot.

Katie got her henna did!

I had help from my girls with setting up.

Before the storm.

The staff. Unpaid interns if you will. We wrote a song called "Glitter Girls" because they are!

Then it rained...

And I got my pants wet...

Zoey got...well, EVERYTHING wet.

Lots of harried artists packed a lot of stuff away very quickly.

Sometimes, even during the tough times...a blue lollipop solves everything.

Labels: ,

Friday, September 28, 2007

Butt. In the seat.

Dan and I are on book 2 of our joint Hemingway reading -- although Dan has smoked me by reading a couple of others. I will catch up one day, really. But anyway, we are now reading Islands in the Stream. (I know, queue ridiculous Kenny Rogers/Dolly Parton song here. I am kind of annoyed that they took that title. I think Ernest had it first).

I’m only a quarter of the way through, but as Dan and I discussed at one of our sessions this week, there are already good lessons to be learned. Thomas Hudson is the main character; he lives one one of those idyllic islands that exist in, well...novels, and he is a painter.

There’s a lot of Hemingway in Thomas Hudson, I think...which means a lot can be gleaned about the writing process and what it takes to be a professional writer. Lesson Number One?

Show up. Every day. Sit down and paint (or in our case write). He lives on this gorgeous piece of paradise, and Hudson’s three sons are visiting him for their once-a-year time with dad. Perfect excuse to slack off with the workload, right? Wrong. He’s at it every morning regardless of weather/plans/interruptions/mood. That’s how you become good, and if you’re already good, it’s how you stay good and become better.

Much like the Writer’s rooms...their chairs were comfy or hard or ugly or stylish, but those seats all had one thing in common: their butts were in them.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, September 27, 2007


I read this in a NYT interview with Arthur Frommer, the dude who does all those travel guides that are oh so handy for going somewhere.

Q: What has been your greatest discovery while traveling?

A: The sameness of all people, all over the world. From the mother of a Masai family in Kenya to a young couple in Japan to an Egyptian teacher living on a houseboat, all people have the same basic concerns and deal with the same human problems that we do.

I think that's why songwriters are necessary. They point out how we're all the same.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Out the door to work for 9 hours at 7 AM, straight to San Antonio for a gig, played for 2.5 hours...drove back, home at midnight. Makes for one tired little songwriter. :)

Labels: , ,

Monday, September 24, 2007

Best. Tip. Ever.

I made a couple of new friends at the Downtown Artist Market this weekend, where I play for a couple of hours most Saturdays. Becca and Mackenzie were hanging out at the community art table, and before I knew it Becca had her metaphorical beret on and I was being portraited. :) I think she caught my glittery essence well, down to the tattoo on the ankle!

I'm not sure what grade she's in, but I'm pretty sure Becca hasn't had to tackle algebra yet...which is ok because she's going to be an artist anyway!

Labels: ,

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Jana's Writer's Room

Ok, it's a corner. A Writer's Corner in a room because I only have one room, dangit. Inspired by the Guardian UK's photo-essay on famous authors and their rooms of choice, here we go. A short tour, if I may. Excuse the dust.

An ubiquitous guitar case on the floor for easy access. I picked up the chair at a thrift store for 6 bucks. It swivels and it has no arms, good for proper guitar holding. The desk on the right is also a thrift store purchase. I hauled it up 2 flights of stairs myself until a nice neighbor saw me and helped with the last flight. Phew. That's for the pure writing end of things. Pen, paper, guitar. The other desk is for recording things on the laptop.

Photos! Everywhere! People I like, musicians I've met, an MCC autograph.

Two maps (one US and one World) to remind me of the places I get to see.

A couple of my own gig posters (embarrassed!) that were really awesome gigs and make me happy to remember them.

The bookcase holds a bunch of poetry (Whitman, Eliot, Sandberg, Dickinson, Rilke, Moore, and Parker to name a few) and a bunch of modern American history (Vietnam, environmental rights movement, women's lib, civil rights, the counterculture). There's a little Civil War and some 18th century America tucked away in there, too.

Then up above is the CD collection. I really need to get a giant iPod and rip all of that, because you just can't tour with a bookcase.

Labels: ,

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Another Moleskine for the Collection

They're so dang handy, and I love a quality writing/notetaking tool, as you know. I'm almost through my 2nd Moleskine to-do/notes/reference blank book of the year, but I decided I needed a more permanent address book. As fun as it is to email my mom every time I need someone's info (thanks, mom), and as handy as a Gmail contact list is...sometimes, you're just not on the internet. Even me. Yes, there I said it: SOMETIMES I'M NOT ON THE INTERNET.

Enter pure and simple Moleskine joy. There are no pre-made forms to fill in. Every page is as blank as my head on writer's block, and I can put as much or as little as I want for each contact. Plus I'll always know my alphabet.

Labels: ,

Friday, September 21, 2007

MCC On Writing: "Wait."

There is an excellent interview with Mary Chapin Carpenter in the November issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine (we haven't even lived October yet!). Happy Birthday to me. :) Anyway, it's brilliant. (Have I mentioned MCC is brilliant?)

Some key thoughts from the interview. When asked if songs are hard to write, Chapin replies, "I don’t think of songs as being hard to write. It’s a process, and every song requires dedication, emotion, and inspiration. Some songs really do drop out of the sky, as Bill Monroe used to say, and others are a little harder to get to. But if you’re lucky enough, you get a keeper, and it ends up sticking around."

The follow-up question is: if you only have the first half of a song, what do you do?

"Wait. ...to paraphrase the artist Helen Frankenthaler, the harder you try to get at something, the more elusive it becomes. So if you have half a song and it means something to you, and you believe in it, then you’re going to wait until the other half comes along."

Oh. It is true. Some songs are hard-won, and that's ok. Rose Tremain said in her Writer's Room profile that, "All writers spend great drifts of time staring into space - a habit not tolerated easily by those who aren't writers."

That's the waiting. I am still trying to be at peace with the waiting. I think it's a habit to cultivate in a lot of areas of our lives. We wait, things come. We just have to wait with intention and direction.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A Room of One's Own

I happened upon a collective up at The Guardian called “Writer’s Rooms” today and I was spellbound. Not only do we get a peek into what professional, full time, awarded and lauded authors do to make “a room of one's own,” but the little blurbs accompanying each photo are just as revealing.

A few things surprised me: none are really grandiose rooms of ornate wood and gold hinges. A couple even admit to trying that setup and reverting back to just...a rather lived-in comfortable place. I’m not surprised. One needs a certain amount of comfort around before the muse feels safe to come out and play, I think. I am very much in love with Seamus Heaney’s attic room, with his specially built bookcases and his desk made of a plank of wood over two filing cabinets.

Margaret Drabble
has an awesome window with a gorgeous view...and claims she never looks out when writing. Maybe just knowing it is there is inspiration enough.

Rose Tremain gives us another plank over filing cabinets treatment...

John Mortimer keeps his liquor behind him for motivation, photos of his grandkids on the bookcase, and an award or two. I think every artist needs to come from a place of humility (to let the words come out of the air willingly) but also...it’s key to have a bit of hubris. Why should the words come to ME? What did I do to deserve the words? Yes, hubris is definitely a necessary quality.

A lot...the bulk, I would say...of these writers have something in common. They get up EARLY...some say 6 AM...and they sit down and they WRITE.

I am a spastic and excuse-filled writer. I sit down for 10 minutes and then I have to put laundry in the dryer, or the phone rings, or my email probably needs checking. My Life Guru (and ex-boss), Karen, told me that if I am to cut back on hours at my current job...ALL of those hours need to be spent writing and practicing on top of what I already do now. No goofing off allowed. She’s right. It’s inspiring to know these authors just sit down and spill out words, whether it’s on a laptop or good old pen and paper.

I’m getting there...or at least I am attempting. :) I’ll post my own little room later this week.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

We Need Our Troubadours

I wasn’t there, but Bob Dylan by all reports blew into Austin, put on 2 amazing shows in 2 nights, having taken the ACL Festival goers to church all over again on Sunday night at Zilker Park. Someone also mentioned that Dylan probably gets $50,000 to play a gig like ACL. Whether that’s true or not, he gets something with that many digits in it, I am sure.

I got to thinking...”Man. You get to be a musician of Dylan’s reputation, and you don’t even need to leave your house more than 5 times a year to gig.”

Then I thought about the implications of that. Do I wish for that? I can’t even imagine having to make the choice, but look at Dylan. He tours all the time. I saw him back in 2006 in Albuquerque. It was, well...HIM. In the flesh, the poet laureate of folk music. Singing maybe 16 of his songs, when he could have sung 45 and still left us going, “But he didn’t sing...” And he messed around with them musically, some of them. This was no 1960’s folk revival -- there were dueling solos and organ licks. It was great, though. "Like A Rolling Stone" stirred something inside us, and "Blowin’ in the Wind" gave me goosebumps.

I think it probably gives Dylan goosebumps, too, maybe...because he still tours. He doesn’t have to. He doesn’t have to rehearse endless hours, roll up and down the highway in a bus, and hang out in green rooms, but he does.

This isn’t a business you get into to reach some magical monetary happiness point where you can “retire” and “stay home.” If you are a troubadour, if you are about music for the masses and lyrics for the soul...then by god you had better be taking it TO THEM. You’re not just working your way up the ladder of bar gigs and playing outside in 95 degree Texas heat because you want to hang it up when you’re 50. Some professions are like that, and that’s great. That’s a good end to a good life, too. But this one costs too much, in a good way, to want to put in your 25 and cash out.

And we still need Dylan. We need our poet laureate to be out among us in America, seeing how it is and then telling how it REALLY is. The American songbook is the best sort of historical and cultural preservation we have, as well as the best call to change and improvement we can embrace.

That’s no 9 to 5 job.

In the dime stores and bus stations,
People talk of situations,
Read books, repeat quotations,
Draw conclusions on the wall.
Some speak of the future,
My love she speaks softly,
She knows there's no success like failure
And that failure's no success at all.
- Love Minus Zero/No Limit (Bob Dylan, 1965)

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


My weekly Girlz' Songwriting Group. I'm the only one who uses the term "girlz." Actually it's really annoying, I'll stop. We learned some Fleetwood Mac to kick off the show...

Labels: ,

Sunday, September 16, 2007

I practice Google stock prices?

The past few days I have been singing "GOOG GOOG GOOG GOOG GOOG" etc. over and over again. As much as it makes me think of Google stock prices, it's actually my new warm up. It's by a method from Roger Love, who I guess is the "vocal coach to the stars" meaning...lots of stars take vocal lessons, apparently. 5 minutes of GOOG and GUG and MUM and NO! (Also good self-defense practice). This is on top of 13 minutes of warm ups from The Zen of Screaming, involving lots of Gi-Yah-Gi-Yahs and Wee-Oop-Wee-Oops and Eee-eee-eee and Eee-eee-AH-Heys. It probably sounds ridiculous, but it is totally relaxing and Professor Dan says he hears progress, though I just hear "goog goog goog." :)

Labels: , ,

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Community Online and Offline

Jana, Josh, and Kina

I had a really awesome warm fuzzy gig Thursday night at Club 115 downtown. I got to songswap (and meet, for the first time) Kina Grannis; she just moved here from California. Austin is such a town of transplants, but I think that's what makes it happy to live in. People aren't very involved in geography or customs here, so we can all just get down to the business of making music. Kina has wonderful songs and a powerful voice...she'll fit right in here.

Kalu James was kind of our herder for the evening...he got us all booked and onstage at the appointed time and no one had to be booted out for inappropriate behavior. Always a concern when you book me, folks. JUST KIDDING. Kalu hails from Nigeria by way of Rochester, New York. See what I mean about transplants? His voice will knock you on your butt.

No, I did not drink anything to obtain said warm fuzzies, that's water.

Josh Britt swapped songs with Elizabeth Hobbs...go to Josh's Myspace page and listen to "The Hatchet." It is my favorite song ever, and you should hear it. Elizabeth is full of totally clever lyrics and gorgeous voice to go along with it. I am slightly reminded of Lisa Loeb when I hear her, and that's a compliment from my camp. Camp Loeb. Or something. Have you listened to Josh yet? DO IT.

Kalu then swapped with Miguel Briones...which, if you compare their styles...is a really interesting combination. Both being really powerful voices to the stage in very different ways. That's the joy of these collective songswap nights...it's like getting a scoop of butter pecan WITH your mint chocolate chip, or whatever tingles your sweet tooth.

And I am piecing together, as we have nights like these, that the point of all of these online communities like Myspace and Facebook and Twitter and Flickr and whatever...the point of them all is to share and bring people together in this Brave New World of technology. I think somewhere along the line people got kind of stuck at home at their computers, playing round 87 of Minesweeper, and got really lonely. So all of these social networking tools are not made to reject this new way of life, but to make it better.

And then the obvious continuation of that is...apply it to the OFFLINE life. We all still have those, right? Gather according to interests. Educate each other. Build each other up. The more your friends succeed the better off your world is. I feel that connection with all these fine songwriters. We gripe about the perils of finding paying gigs and we swap stories about flakey booking people, but we also find encouragement and strength when we all do what we love to do...together.

So thanks, Kalu-Josh-Miguel-Elizabeth-Kina! I'm glad you're in my offline world...and that you accepted me as a Myspace friend. ;)

Labels: , , ,

Friday, September 14, 2007

Obsession Check In

Someone else's oatmeal.

Just for a point of reference, if you ever need to accuse me of being obsessed with anything. (i.e. "Oh yeah?? Well you're dumb, Jana...because you're obsessed with):

- Luna Bars. In particular the caramel nut brownie and the chocolate peppermint. Vegan. Full of folic acid. Gimme gimme folic acid. (Oh no, I just made a Britney reference. Sigh. I thought I was above that. I guess not).

- Grapefruit. Still on that grapefruit kick! Making up for years of lost Vitamin C.

- Sunkist orange soda. I'd also like to think this contributes to my Vitamin C intake, but I think all it does is make me orangey in hue. I spend so much time keepin' it real, yo. I need some artificial flava, too.

- Mindy Smith's CD Long Island Shores. "Out Loud" is a spectacular song.

Mindy Smith. Not oatmeal.

- The Zen of chord theory. Sometimes, when I mess around with words and chords and phrases and open-ended things so much...it's nice to know that the key of C will always have a fifth, and the fifth will always be G. Concrete.

- Oatmeal. I know, it's like I discovered how to eat like an adult or something. I was never an oatmeal kid. Now I like to drench it in cinnamon and eat it for dinner.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Chord Theory, Theoretically.

Be at one with the neck.

So my guitar teacher Kevin has been gently steering me toward chord theory. Theory is something I have always shied away from because...well, it seems complicated. Several people have explained it to me over the years, but I was either resistant or perhaps...14 years old with other things on my mind like standing in the breakfast burrito line during passing period. I don't know.

But the past couple of weeks we have been examining it from a very practical point of view...going up and down the neck of the guitar looking at different chord phrasings and forms.

It is amazing how fluid and synchronistic the neck of the guitar is. Yeah, it's a bunch of notes all in a row...but they all fit into certain formations that make the same chords over and over again. Joy. For a songwriter, it's like a newfound pot of gold.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Fat Tire for a Flat Tire

On Saturday morning my neighbor Jim knocked on my window and said, "I just wanted to let you know...you should fix your flat tire before you go anywhere." In my morning haze it took me a while to realize that what he meant was...I should FIX my FLAT TIRE before I tried to GO ANYWHERE. Sigh.

So Jim is a great neighbor. He gave me his can of Fix-A-Flat and we inflated that sucker, and then I drove all the way to Dripping Springs (because you're supposed to drive on the tire so...the...stuff...does its thing or something scientific like that) and back, which is pretty much the farthest I have ever driven to buy a Sunkist soda. It was worth it, though. Dripping Springs gas stations make the best Sunkist.

After my Artist Market gig I took my Fix-A-Flatted self over to Discount Tire and they said it was a tiny screw and fixed it for freeeeee. I like that a lot.

Next time I drive through a screw field, I'll be a little more careful.

So anyway at my gig at Waterloo Icehouse last night, Jim came and I was able to repay his kindness with a beer, a Fat Tire...for the Flat Tire. We're clever. Jim is the same guy who threw his remote control at a wasp nest that was growing bigger by the day on my porch...and then kicked it off the balcony. He got stung, and lost his batteries. But there are no more wasps and my tire is inflated. He's pretty much the best neighbor ever.

Lesson? Get thee a can or 4 of Fix-A-Flat! (Or 18 cans if you drive a semi. Natch).

Labels: ,

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Travelin' Girl

So this just happened, it seems...but all of the sudden I realize that within the next 2 months, I have gigs in Austin, San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, and Albuquerque. That feels good. That is all.

Labels: , ,

Friday, September 7, 2007

A Bigger Toolbox

I took that.

Oh kids. It's been a long week. Why is it that the 4 day weeks after a holiday are always longer than the usual 5 days? Not that I'm complaining, 3 day weekends rock. It's just getting to the NEXT weekend that hurts. But I got a lot done this week...more on the website redesign, some new gigs, some old gigs, lots of grad skoo' work.

Folk Music Grad School has taken on the form lately of dismantling and re-building. It's horrific and good. It's not to say you won't recognize my voice or playing style, but I will have more options in my toolbox as a singer and a player when I am done. Which means totally ignoring my old habits and predilections for the time being and starting over. For instance...have you ever tried to sing only as loudly as you talk? Those of you who know me know I don't talk very loudly, usually. After years of playing in markets and stores and other places with no PA, I've really worked on the projection and volume thing. But this week, the task is to sing only as loudly as a normal speaking voice, which is weird but oddly good. It opens up a vocal palette that works well within folk music. On the opposite side of the coin, it's hard to let go of all your pre-formed notions of How You Do Things...because you generally do them for a reason. I guess grad school is supposed to knock your pride a bit before it pumps you full of knowledge, otherwise you'd never think you needed the knowledge anyway.

Collecting new tools, that's the name of the game. And right now, the only tool I want is a bagel. Mmm bagel. Happy Friday!!!

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The Year Begins to End

That's it. That's all I have. Well, not all of it. But in the effort of not spoiling any possible surprises...this little graphic here is all I can post in terms of what my inspiration is for the blog redesign. This little bugger might not even exist by the time I'm done, but it's green and I like it.

J and I decided that part of our "End O' the Year" wrapping up (our year ends in November because we figure cranking it out like mad people for 11 months calls for one off) will involve a fresh look here at jpo.com. Yes, we are already thinking about the end of the year, just like you are probably freaking out at the Halloween stuff in the stores already. I know I am.

That's actually one of our built-in mantras for Sol Bourn (our record label and overall company name)...mental rests are essential for what we do. `It's not to say I won't gig in December. I mean, if Queen Elizabeth wants me to play a folkified version of Ave Maria at the palace Christmas party, who am I to say no? (Just call me, E. We'll work it out). But I digress...

J and I started something last November that will officially become a Tradition this November...because we're doing it again! Do anything twice and it's an instant tradition, I say. On November 11, 2006 the Annual JP Project debuted at a house concert in Albuquerque with special guest Matt Jones, a mightily talented Burquean. It was an evening to give thanks to all the people who trekked to so many coffeehouse shows, who threw dollars and change in the tip jar, bought the CDs, who were supportive of this endeavor whether they met me when I was 12 or 22 (or perhaps raised me...my parents were there, too!). I had been living in Austin for 6 months, so it was a good time to return to the roost and say hello.

This year the 2nd Annual JP Project is greenlighted. The details are coming, ABQ peoples...no worries. The Special Guest is rarin' and set to go, and this time it's a Texan. The hors d'oeuvres...well, we haven't made them yet because it's still 2 months away and that would be gross.

I'm ready. Now if I could just get my little green graphic to sprout wondrous blog inspiration, we'd be set!

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, September 3, 2007

Labor Day Shirt Spree

Gig shirts. A tricky thing. For me, anyway...they have to be unobtrusive enough so someone doesn't spend the whole show wondering what the heck my shirt means as opposed to listening to the music...but I'd like to think I uphold a standard for t-shirts and that standard is: Dang Clever. Hence...I took a little gig money and hit the sales, all from the comfort of the Irie Bean couch. I love internet shopping. Here's what we ended up with:

From RandomShirts.com:

From Threadless.com:

I just wanted a burgundy shirt with a hen on it, ok? It's actually called "The Emergence of the Easter Egg." Brilliant.


Sunday, September 2, 2007

The Labor List :: Things Are Speeding Up

The homework just keeps piling up, in a good way! Here's what's on my To Do List for the next couple of months:

- start recording the new album...woot!

- write new songs for that new album. One hopes.

- brush up on lead guitar for gigs backing up Amanda Pearcy (one being at Waterloo Icehouse this coming Saturday night...see the calendar for specs).

- get ready for another set of gigs in New Mexico! Hearts and flowers all over.

- Shows in San Antonio and Houston...watch it, Texas. I'm gunnin' for ya.

- Prepping for the Life's A Song Workshop.

- All those usual gigs still happening.

- I'm trying to re-design the website. This could take 3 days or 3 years. Haha. I'm aiming for maybe a month. Ample time for inspiration and execution.

So ideally, I will be laboring on labor day...but in a laid back, end of summer kind of day. Everyone drink a beer in my honor. Or a root beer. Even better.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, September 1, 2007

The Missing R...

Terri Hendrix told a funny story at her gig at the Nutty Brown on Friday night...back in the day when she had her first "marquee" gig -- with her name out front on the marquee of the venue -- she wanted her photo taken with the sign. (We all do, it's a rite of passage). So Terri is all set to go and her friend has the camera and the friend won't take the photo and Terri is wondering why...and the friend points to the sign that says:


Apparently, they ran out of R's. I mean, really, what's one extra line between friends, right? Phode Island, Pock 'n Poll, Pod Stewapt...all perfectly acceptable alternatives. (Actually, that spelling is making me flashback to The Birds and Tippi Hedren, but I'm a Hitchcock nerd...I digress).

Well, Terri...I have your extra R. You can have it back, too.

There's No "R" In Pochop :)

When I played in Santa Fe in May, we rolled up to the venue, and I was about to have my magical marquee moment...and then it all fell apart as well.


Yes, I'd like to think my guitar chops are pro. But it's not my name. So J took the SUV over to the sign, stood on the roof, and removed the offending R.

After the R was taken out...

All better.

Really, Terri...I'll mail it to you. It's not a problem. :)

Labels: , ,