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


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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A little honesty from Nashville

Ok, I admit it. I read blogs about Nashville and country music. I love the stuff. I don't listen to country radio anymore because a lot of it makes me cringe, but I was raised on it and I believe Nashville draws some of the world's best troubadours and writers forever and ever amen. It's an image driven city, for sure, but I still think there is room for the Song, and maybe a good chunk of the Nashville machine will still tell you that. It gives me hope for commercial music.

One of my favorite bands in Nashville these days is Sugarland, which is odd because they're actually popular. I can't say that about too many of my favorite artists (besides the Chicks, I guess). Jennifer Nettles is the lead singer, and much like Natalie of the Chicks, Jennifer has a voice you either love or...maybe don't love. That's ok. I've got albums from Jennifer's previous days in Georgia-based bands like Soul Miner's Daughter...and while she's more Nashville than folk or rock these days, the pipes have remained the same. You can't miss Jennifer singing. (She's so young here!)

So these country music blogs I read...a few were chattering about the new Sugarland video and how amazing it was. So I checked out "Stay" and wow. It is pretty different for a Nashville product. "Stay" is a great song in the tradition of heart-wrenching, cheating, story-telling country songs...but instead of flashy production and perhaps showing some leg, we get Jennifer up front and center, pretty exposed and um-glammed...singing and crying.

Some people think it's over-acted sap, but I think the material is excellent, the vocals are well done, and she's channeling something from somewhere. Either way, it proves that Nashville doesn't always have to turn out well-polished little bits of media glory. "Stay" is polished in its own right, yes...but they left some of the dirt on, too.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

"So Long" is Up on Myspace

One of the cool things about the Life's A Song Workshop this month was recording a demo with Lloyd Maines. He's kind of one of my favorite guitarists ever. And steel guitarists. And whatever else he can pluck that has strings. In addition to being brilliant, he's a nice guy. I was nervous for about 45 seconds when we were about to record ("I'minastudiorecordingwithLloydMaaaaaaaaines!"), but he was chill and put all of us workshoppers at ease.

So the product is a demo of So Long...streaming on Myspace right this minute.

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Monday, October 29, 2007

GoGirls MusicFest 2007 - Houston, baby!

In a few short days I depart for Houston for GoGirls MusicFest 2007...part deaux. And to see my good buddy Heather. I get to sleep on her couch and drag her around the city, and in return she gets...someone sleeping on her couch and dragging her around the city. (Sorry, Heather).

Here's the schedule:

Saturday, November 3rd
Last Concert Cafe
1403 Nance Street
Houston, TX 77002
cover: $5
age: All ages

This event will benefit the Friends for Life Animal Shelter. Check them out at http://www.nokill1.org

There will also be an auction and raffle! The first 100 people in the door will receive a FREE copy of the GoGirlsMusicFest ’07 CD...

6:00-6:25pm Jana Pochop
6:30-6:55pm Glenna Bell
7:00-7:25pm Robin Leigh
7:30-7:55pm Celeste Terrell
8:10-8:35pm Shiela Harrison
8:45-9:10pm Hidden Agenda
9:20-9:45pm Sheila Swift
10:00-10:30pm The Snake Charmers
10:45-11:15pm Osirus
11:30-12:15am 3 Kisses

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Dues Paying

Top o' the Sunday mornin' to ya...

Interesting bunch of gigs lately. All very fun, though some situations you walk into and wonder about. :) I played at the Maker Faire at the Travis County Expo Center last weekend, in conjunction with the Artist Market. There were all kinds of people walking around wearing Microsoft and Apple shirts, and one dude had on a Firefox baseball cap. I didn't know Firefox, the internet browser, made street wear.

So anyway...The Artist Market was set up...in the livestock barn. After I trekked around the complex looking for my gate to get in (because I needed to get my vendor pass but apparently needed a pass to get to the place to get my pass?), I set up shop in the barn. They had cleaned it out nicely. I think there was one rogue pile of cow poo that maybe I stepped in. Made some tip money. When I got home and pulled out my guitar, it was coated in a thick layer of livestock dust. Mmm! I just felt bad for all the artists, like the jewelers and the sewing people, who were probably vaccuuming their wares when they got home. I just had to do a quick polish.

I was feeling sickly with a cold/allergies all week but was booked to play lead guitar for my buddy Amanda at her gig out next to Town Lake on Friday night. These gigs are fun so I wasn't going to miss out. I made it through a couple hours, but by 10:30 or so the temperature dropped and I was a-shivering through my solos. Amanda took pity and told me to go double layer my socks and sleep. :)

Yesterday was the usual Artist Market set up on 6th Street. I was minding my own business with my guitar in hand between songs, and this dude walks up and asks if I am a UT fan. Now, I thought it was odd because I was wearing all black (not burnt orange) and actually happened to be wearing my UNM LOBOS jacket. Clearly my allegiances lie elsewhere. Then the very nice man told me about proposing to a girl on the Tram in Albuquerque, and he bought a CD, and said he'd be right back because he left his car unlocked.

Ok? So he comes back...with a pamphlet...about being saved. Ah HA!

One of my market buddies tells me, "You kind of attract that sort of stuff, Jana."

All in a day's work. ;)

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Vicariously on Tour / Responsibility to the Path

Dan's band Porterdavis hits the road a LOT, because they are pretty much burning up with awesomeness. I'm kind of a little proud. :)

I know I posted about mentors a couple of days ago, but I must say Dan is pretty much my musical mentor. Maybe meeting him was the closest I have come to actually seeking out a mentor, except I still wasn't really. I was seeking voice lessons and some guitar advice, maybe a little inspiration to go with. What I have ended up with is someone who is, like I said earlier...endlessly supportive, believes in what I have to say, honest with what I need to work on, constructive about it, and totally in my corner. That's kind of a big deal when you're in your 20's and you think you want to be a musician.

It's a weird road. People think you're gunning for poverty, drug addiction, living in your car, lacking health insurance, aimlessness, selling out...all those bad things that get lumped into "the music business."

Dan's shown a path of independence, self-sufficiency, responsibility, gratitude, growth, and intention. Being a musician, when you approach it the right way, is just as rewarding and responsible as being a doctor or a lawyer.

And this is just me speaking because I don't like bodily fluids or Latin words, but it sounds a lot more fun. ;) *

* Props to all you docs and lawyers, though...

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Gear: Going Loopy

I've been jonesing for a looping pedal for a while because of what KT Tunstall does with it in her live version of Black Horse and a Cherry Tree.

I mentioned this to Professor Dan, who happened to share the same jonesing...so we did some research this week (Dan did his from the VAN on TOUR with his iPHONE, because he's more technologically advanced than Steve Jobs. I bet Steve doesn't loop things). It was down to a couple of models, and then out of nowhere comes the Boss Loop Station. Look at it. It's a thing of beauty.

So now I'm a proud owner and have read the manual (it's the RC-20XL if you want to be precise)...and it's going to take a bit to turn into KT. Ok, maybe like 7 years, if I forego bathing and sleep. But...I am excited because I think when I do get proficient at looping, it'll up my live show in terms of musicality and variety. I'm not shooting for a canned one-girl-band kinda thing, but being able to riff over a nice chunka-chunka beat is going to be cool.


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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Importance of Mentors

j.Po's fingers of (on) fire.

“Mentor: Someone whose hindsight can become your foresight.” - unattributed

I can't speak enough of the great group of people in my life whom I call mentors. There's a separation between people who are simply inspiring to be around, those who are teachers, and those who are actually mentors...mentoring is all about the Verb, and it's a conscious choice on their part. Mentors usually focus on one area in your life, so it's different than just being raised "right" or your upbringing. You can have a mentor when you're 22 or 92, as far as I'm concerned.

According to Wikipedia, famous Mentor/Mentee relationships include:

* Socrates and Plato
* Plato and Aristotle
* Aristotle and Alexander the Great
* Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot

That's not bad company, really. I can honestly say I've never approached someone and said, "Hello. Be my mentor." It's more of a stumbling, the way I do things. You have to make sure you're going in the same direction and all that, because it's a big undertaking...usually that doesn't happen until you're working with your mentor-to-be in some other capacity. Maybe they start out as a teacher or a boss, but I've never met anyone with "Mentor" on their business card. :)

It's a weird balance, too. There has to be a spark, I think. Then you have to be in a comfortable enough zone with this mentor (i.e. know them pretty well) so they can be brutally honest with you, and when they tell you positive things, you have to be able to believe them. I hate haaaaaate brutal honesty when it involves being told you have to change something or work on something (who doesn't?)...but if your mentor is coming from the right place it's essential to listen.

My Life Guru and caretaker of general life quiddities happens to be my ex-boss, Karen. She fired me, sorta. She chose to give me no option of re-employment after I graduated from college so I'd go...I dunno, see things. And move to Austin. She was entirely correct.

Once she also told me if I did not finish a research paper with an open-ended due date by "next Thursday," I wouldn't have to bother coming back to work until I did. I liked going to work. I finished the paper.

I still check in just about every time I skate through Albuquerque. I've got an appointment for a chat over oatmeal in a couple weeks, in fact. Very excited.

I guess my point is...if there's something you want to work on in life, and I don't care if it's music or writing or cooking or fixing your car yourself (not a bad idea, hm)...going at it alone is a rough time, and it doesn't have to be that way. Seek out opportunities, keep your eyes open, and stumble a little bit. Those wise and perceptive mentor-types will be looking out for you when you need it.

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Albuquerque: My Hometown

In only two weeks I fly to Albuquerque to play some gigs. Well, the gigs are all over New Mexico, but Albuquerque is a nice place to land, always.

I miss it all the time, but especially in the fall when the scent of roasting green chile and burning cedar fills the air. And then there are the balloons...taking over the skyline for a few weeks in October and adding color to an already vibrant sky. It's not really explainable...y'all might think a few hot air balloons in the air is not so much a big whoop. Except there are HUNDREDS, all at once. It's awesome.

There are years that the wind triumphs and some of the events are cancelled, but the last time I attended the Balloon Fiesta in 2005, it was perfect flying weather. Here's a little bit of Albuquerque in October:

The Mass Ascension in the morning.

Right now my mom is freaking out because her photo is now on my blog. Hehhehheh. She's a cute mom.

Special shapes rock, too. They're huge.

Inflating for the Balloon Glow at dusk...


There are a few more photos in my Flickr Pool if you are interested...

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

j.Po Thots: Songs are like newborns

jana: thoughtfully perusing the menu of life since the 80's.

I'm not sure when it's cool to take a new kid out for kicks for the first time. I hear they're suceptible to all the germy things floating around in our world, so new parents often keep the kiddos at home for quite some time. Then again there's the thought that the more you expose yourself to, the hardier you'll be because you're used to it. As my mom says, "A little dirt never hurt anyone!"

Same goes for songs. You don't want to screw something up the first time you perform it live, but there's that inevitable difference of putting a new piece out there in public versus the safety of the bedroom wall. I tried out a couple of new things last night at my gig, and the audience seemed to dig them. (Jana's definition of "dig": no one ran screaming in the other direction). I left out a few words, but hey. No one had heard them before so it wasn't a big deal. They weren't sitting there going "um, that was supposed to be 'burn down the FUSE, Jana'." Now that these new ones have been officially broken in, I think they're ready for more outings. Time to get a stroller and maybe some wipes!

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Overdue Oil Change

Shrek-ear car.

Maybe I was a couple thousand over, or maybe 3k. Oops. I put on 1,000 miles in a week at the start of the month and it just gets away from you. Anyway, I have a great mechanic who cares, and he tells me, "I'm sorry. I hate to have to tell you this, but you passed your state inspection." My jaw dropped while it processed, and then it was amusing. After my heart slowed down. Funny dude.

Anyway Car Dude says, "You put on a LOT of miles this year." I told him to hold up for 2008. Luckily he says we're running in top form still. :)

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Fave Album Covers

Rolling Stone has a little blip about the best album covers...and points out that some of that is going away due to digital distribution and all that.

On one hand that makes me happy because I have a shelf full of plastic cases I have to move everytime I relocate. Pain. But more so, I DO enjoy the artwork and flipping through the lyrics and following along with a new CD. Seems like the thing to do, right?

Rolling Stone's List (click the link for visuals):
Wilco, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Sonic Youth, Goo
Pink Floyd, Animals
Nirvana, Nevermind
Prince, Purple Rain

Of course I got thinking about mine. I don't know if I have excellent taste in album artwork, but I know what makes me happy. Some of it is probably nostalgia. I still remember the day MCC's "A Place in the World" came out (1998, baby!), and I sat on the couch for hours absorbing and dissecting it. So I probably attach a lot of baggage to some of these covers ("A Place in the World" not being on the list. Sorry).

Here are mine, off the top of my head.

Mary Chapin Carpenter - Stones in the Road: Oh of course there's a Chapin entry. I always thought this cover was cool. It says, "Yes, I play my own guitar on my album." I think it holds up pretty well for being 13 years old.

Patty Griffin - Flaming Red: I keep thinking about what I want my record cover to look like, and I always think, "Reds. Fiery and warm reds and oranges." And then I think, "Oh. Patty Griffin already did that." This cover fits the sound of the album so well.

Alison Krauss - New Favorite: This one always caught me. It's like a snapshot of dinner with Union Station. And Alison is all..."what?" Except it's not goofy, or corny, it's just a photograph. That happens to contain the whole band, but not standing around in some posed weirdness like so many band covers do. Good job, AKUS.

Imogen Heap - Speak for Yourself: It's so...colorful. Except white. It's simple and yet gets across Imogen's personality, I think. Not like we hang out. Yet.

Amanda Marshall: She's on a nice looking chair. On some sand. Totally natural like. And the look on Amanda's face says, "I am SO rock star enough to be on this upholstered chair on the beach, jerks."

Terri Hendrix - The Spiritual Kind: I realize I have a lot of photo shots and not so many art covers. Here's your art. And everything on this CD cover relates to something on the album. I think that's neato.

Kasey Chambers - Barricades and Brick Walls: I always thought this cover was rather Dylanesque, in a good way. It's got a bunch of my favorite components in it: red, black+white, a guitar, and a road. Brill.

What are YOUR favorite covers? Post 'em in the the comments!

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Makin' a Record: The Gear

Well. I just happened upon a stellar deal of a Digidesign mBox2Pro. Slightly and barely used, it's what I needed for this project we call The Record. It comes with ProTools, which is the program to have for recording. Well, one of them...but it's kind of the industry standard. I'll be pitch-shifting my voice into robot-like Cher Land in no time. Just kidding.

What the mBox2 does, for those who are not gear nerds and heaven help those who are, is act as the gobetween between your guitar or microphone or bass or whatever and the computer. You can't plug a condenser mic into a computer, hence you need the interface. It makes things work.

And these days, anyone can make a record at home with only a few simple pieces of gear. It's pretty fabulous.

Now I just have to learn...how to use it all. Check in on me in about 3 years. :)

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007


This is my 175th blog post. I started in January. I thought that was interesting.

Dallas was very fun. I got to hang with my buddy Katie who knows the city like I know the caffeine aisle at the grocery store (they have those, I promise). We also basically held out for stoppage on the way home until West, TX where The Czech Stop lives. I encountered it first in May when I was driving back to Austin from Albuquerque/Amarillo in some bizarre 15 hour mararthon. I was tired; it was 3 AM. Then there was a sign advertising my people. My Bohemian roots on a billboard. So I pulled over and had the best poppyseed kolache ever. I hated them as a kid when my mom made them because kids don't eat little black pieces of opium. Now I embrace them.

YES I just said I embrace little black pieces of opium.

Oh so anyway, um. I'm kinda tired and over-exerted but that means there's some breakthrough to be had shortly. I tell myself that. I'm around Austin for a couple of weeks and then it's off to Houston and Albuquerque for some shows. Very excited for a New Mexico autumn.

I'm learning chord theory in a way that is finally making sense. Hallelujah.

After that little stint in ABQ and my Birthday Show at the Irie Bean (November 15th, y'all should come)...it's REST time. Meaning, I'll stay home more and record and write and learn. I am looking forward to this a lot.

A big Happy Birthday to my big sister Tracy! :) The card's in the mail. Well it will be. Maybe with your Christmas present.

Right now I am mesmerized by this Feist video. It makes me happy! I was introduced to it by Heather and her fab Lyrical Venus blog. Check it out. Enjoy Feist whilst I enjoy the quiet misty Austin evening.

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Saturday, October 13, 2007

I like Dallas.

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Hello Dallas.

Greetings from Opening Bell Coffee in Dallas, Texas! I'm about to get my gig on for the GoGirls MusicFest 2007. Very excited. Very nice people here. Lots of good music, food, and things to raffle and auction to beneft Operation Kindness, the area's no kill animal shelter! Woot. And thanks to my local co-pilots, I did not get lost driving here. Good grief Dallas has a lot of exits.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

The CAPS Song

Wow. I just had big piece of my past pop right back up. In a good way!

See, when I was in college I worked for the Center for Academic Program Support, which we call CAPS because we're extremely busy people who can't spit out "Center for Academic Program Support" every time we turn around. I spent many a semester tutoring writing and political science and history there, as well as doing workshops on time management (everybody now: "HAHAHAHA! Jana and time management!") and note taking and stuff. My Life Guru, whom I prod for advice over breakfast pastries, was kind enough to employ me there for 3 years so I didn't leave college totally broke (thanks, Karen).

Anyway, I met one of my best buds at CAPS one summer. Mary is a fine connoisseur of pumpkin baked goods, a wickedly good writer, and keeps me posted on all the CAPS goings on whilst I am away. Sh emailed me the other day with this website and asked if it was ok to post it for the world to see. Crazy.

Mary spears a muffin.

See, when we worked at CAPS in the summer, Mary and I had some downtime because there's just less going on at a university in the summer. So we had good times and I got to know and love CAPS quite a bit...and what does Jana do when she loves something? She writes a song about it. (Currently forthcoming: musical tributes to Oatmeal, Bruce Springsteen, and Ziplock bags). Thus, I give you...

It was recorded in one take and mayhaps even written in about 15 minutes. :) But it was written with love. Here's to you, my CAPS peeps! Keep workshoppin' the masses, we all need it.

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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Holla, Vermont!

Well, we got one down. The Last Eight is no more. We have officially entered into "Nifty Fifty Minus Seven States + 1 District" Land. My friend Di sent her buddy Melissa to my site, and Melissa is from...you guessed it...VERMONT.

Thus, in tribute to Di's networking and Melissa's awesomeness for breaking up the Last 8...let's talk about Vermont.

The Vermont region was claimed for France by Samuel de Champlain in 1609. Yeah, that's right. I don't know what YOU were doing in 1609, but I bet it wasn't claiming large swaths of land in America for France.

Vermont leads the nation in the production of monument granite, marble, and maple syrup. This is interesting to me. I think there are some swell sporting events to be had with that combination. Perhaps we can lay out a giant slab of granite as a playing field, and then we can polish some marble into nice spherical shapes, and then we can smother the whole thing in maple syrup. Then...well, that's where it falls apart, but I bet it would be sticky.
(yeah, I made that equation up myself)

They also have lots of mountains, including The Green Mountains. Now, Wikipedia says, "The origin of the name Green Mountains (French: Verts monts) is uncertain." Um, you know...I'm no geographer and in fact a self-proclaimed Failed Cartographer, but I'm gonna take a wild guess that the "green"moniker has something to do with all the trees. Just a hunch.

Vermont is it the second least populous state, second only to Wyoming. I kind of feel like I am revealing some state secret here or something, and if there is a flood of people moving into your neighborhood, Melissa...feel free to blame me.

So which states have not represented here at jpo.com yet? Let's revisit our list.

The Unleavened Seven

West Virginia!
New Hampshire!

Once again, folks. You saw the accolades showered on the great state of Vermont and its (though we have never met, I am positive) uber-intelligent and drop dead gorgeous representative, Melissa. That could be you, Delaware. Step up.

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Monday, October 8, 2007

The grinning, all the grinning!

A better recap when I catch up on my sleep. No, I won't be doing that until...December. A better recap tonight, then.

Life's a song and we're all singin'!

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Sunday, October 7, 2007

Life's a Song Day 2!


It's not every day one of your songwriting heroes introduces you onstage...

Breakfast was at 8 AM yesterday, and I returned to my room at 4 AM...now it's 9 AM and time for some workshopping and a 4 hour drive. Back to Austin. Don't make us leave!

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Saturday, October 6, 2007

Life's a Song Day One Highlights

It's almost time for breakfast so I will elaborate more later! Here's what we did yesterday...

Might I say...this is the best time EVER.

Roll Call!

Outside the Third Coast Theater.

Terri and Lloyd are ready to roll.

We went dolphin watching to get to know each other! Port Aransas is gorgeous.

What do you know? We saw dolphins. Sweet. My first time ever.

After dinner it was time...for the Campfire Songwriter Circle. Prepare your axes.

Perfect weather.

Terri and Lloyd started us off...
and after a couple go-rounds and some more jamming...it was bedtime.

Day Two is here!

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Friday, October 5, 2007

The Last 8 States

A little geographical diversion before I head out the door for Port Aransas...

I don't usually pay attention but every so often I like to check my Analytics and see who is visiting my website. So much interesting stuff to look at in pie chart form and bar graph form and...pie bar form. Mmm, pie (a quick Googling has showed me that...I don't think anyone's opened a "pie bar" yet...meaning apple pie or rhubarb pie or whatnot. Someone should do that, preferably close to where I live. Thanks).

So I'm noting that there have been visits from 42 states in this nation of ours plus the District of Columbia (hey, props to DC. I'm all for your Congressional voting rights!). That means 8 of you have yet to represent. Hm.

In an effort to form a most perfect union, I'm calling you out, Last Eight! I want an entirely green map here, friends. None of this yellow state business (thankfully, there are no red state/blue state distinctions in Google Analytics) should be on this visitor map.

Roll Call of the Last Eight:

West Virginia
New Hampshire

Look at those glaringly empty spots on that map. It makes a girl weep.

So what can YOU do, since you are clearly already reading this blog and are in one of the "Nifty Fifty Minus Eight States + 1 District"? Pass it along. Maybe you know someone in one of the Last Eight, but even if you don't...I bet you are one person removed from a Last Eight Resider. We're all connected like that.

Light up my map, folks...make The Last Eight into The Great Eight. I'll keep you posted on its green-ness!

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Thursday, October 4, 2007

It's Thursday already? My life in link form.

Hey there kids. I've been slow at blogging. A few updates:

The weather here is beautiful! It almost called for a hoodie this morning, but I refrained. I'm tough like that.

Mike and Dan in da house. yo!

I saw a great show with porterdavis and Patrice Pike and Carolyn Wonderland this weekend at Threadgill's.

I finished a new song on Saturday in a 3 hour writing spurt. It's nice to be productive on a weekend. I've been writing little songlets every day, with the knowledge that I "turn in" a disc of what I've been working on to Dan at the end of the week. It's an excellent motivator and a really good kick in the pants. If you need motivation, the buddy system does wonders.

I had a headache for about 3 days. Hence I get kind of whiny and abstain from blogging.

I had a fun couple of shows this week at the Irie Bean for the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians (HAAM) Benefit and at Club 115. Swank all around!

This weekend I am going to be uber-productive and head to the Life's A Song workshop with Terri Hendrix and Lloyd Maines. Very thrilled that it's finally here! The perfect start to a new season.

Getting ready for another bit o' New Mexico touring with Susan, as well. Also excitement. Also lots of prep. More on that soon...

I'll blog from Port Aransas if I can! If not...see you on the flip side of the weekend.

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