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


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Friday, November 30, 2007

The Week

Um. Ok...it's Friday already? I didn't post all week? What did I do? Where was I?

Well. I guess it went fast because I spent a lot of time doing things and very little time sleeping. Wednesday night I met my good buddy Heidi from California at the Continental Club for the James McMurtry show. Heidi had flown in to see the Class of '87 Reunion show at Cheatham Street (and gifted me with a birthday ticket thanksverymuch, Heidi!), and we decided to take in a pre-show show.

The next night was the Reunion show, which was amazing and which I will tell you all about in excruciating detail once I sleep and once Heidi sends me some snaps. Send me some snaps, Heidi. (Wow, I am tired. "Snaps?" What is this, 1988?)

So because of all this, and because we "had us a time" after the show as they say here in Texas (do they? I do)...I have had 2 hours of sleep in the last 24. So I think I'll take care of that. More blogging to come folks. I'm back on the train.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Another round of: Best Tip Ever.

The Artist Market is full of swell people, and I'm happy to hang out with them every weekend. This weekend was the first really cold one in Austin, so I was flailing around in 40 degree weather, all a'shivers but having a good time. Then suddenly I see some purpley thing in my guitar case, tossed in by the very talented Bonnie...FLEECE SOCKS!!! She had made them right there at the market for me...I wondered why she asked my shoe size earlier. :) I stopped after that song for a little sock break, and continued my set toasty and warm. These are great days indeed.

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Red Leaf Myspace

Yes, folks...there is a Red Leaf School of Music Myspace page. And you should be our friend. Being as we are a multi-faceted music school with lots of interesting teachers and students, think of the sheer amount of friends you get for just one click! Bang for your buck.

Red Leaf Myspace

Oh, and don't forget the Red Leaf Rocks Winter Show next week...should be a time!

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

I'm Not There

"Who cares what I think? I'm not the President. I'm not some shepherd. I'm just a songwriter." - Cate Blanchett as Jude Quinn who is really Bob Dylan

I just saw the awesome Dylan biopic "I'm Not There." It's a trip. I need to go read about 5 more Dylan biographies and watch some documentaries again, but the relieving part of this venture for me is that I got most of it. Or I knew what was going on, anyway. The main point being...no one really knows what's going on.

We see 6 different facets of Bob Dylan...the folk/rock electrified icon, the uber-religious convert, and the rambling outlaw among them. These facets are not all continuous or even sensical. "Wait, NOW he's a converted Jesus-freak? What?"

But how many times have we changed our lives? I know I am quite the shape-shifter these days...it might be the early 20's thing happening, but I hold new values today that I had quite frankly not thought about a year ago. It's interesting, and I can't map the path or justify it or promise it will remain the same next year. No one really asks me to do that, either.

Everyone was asking Dylan to justify his actions, to create a "next step" as a protest songwriter, to give his opinion on the war, on civil rights, on people, on politics. That's a hefty charge for a 20-something, to be a non-self-appointed voice of a turmoiled generation. So what did Dylan do? He denied it. He changed as he saw fit. He changed his answers for every interview because whatever he said was not going to stop a war, he believed. While all the suits and personalities around him called him selfish for doing so, Dylan was probably doing the most responsible thing.

Also, a side note in the form of a letter;

Dear Cate Blanchett, You rock. You were the most convincing Bob Dylan on screen there could ever be, and I am amazed because frankly I was quite skeptical. I will be applauding from the comfort of my pappasan chair here in Austin when you win an Oscar for this performance. Unless you invite me to be your seat-filler when you go onstage and collect your statue. That would be nice. And then maybe perhaps you could let me hold the Oscar, maybe while you you hobnob with the media and give nonsensical answers to their mundane questions. You did learn something playing Dylan, right? Anyway, good job, Ms. Blanchett...if that is indeed who you REALLY are.

There you be. Go see this film.

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Friday, November 23, 2007

Sophia Marie

Grandma and Grandpa with my baby niece...and me looking smug as a 5-year-old.

We lost my Grandma this week, but heaven gained a heck of a jig saw puzzler and gin rummy player. She stays up late, too, so don't think you can wear her out and put the last piece in. She'll probably be smoking Virginia Slim Menthols ...at least I think I remember that being the brand. (Hey, she was 94 and I figure if you're 94 you can smoke as much as you want). There was always one missing piece we'd look for after the puzzle was all together, and the brown carpet in the dining room didn't help our search any. We usually found it, though.

I was never much of a jigsaw puzzle fan, so I would comb through Grandma's cassette tape and record collection and play whatever struck my fancy. There was a lot of polka. She really liked Alan Jackson and Garth Brooks. I got told more than once that maybe it was time to play something other than "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer"...in July. It was at Grandma's house that I found a Rosanne Cash tape - "King's Record Shop." It's still one of my favorite albums to this day. I even borrowed it for the 10 hour trip home from Kansas to Albuquerque to listen to it on my Walkman (hey, I was 12) and to copy it (ah the days before Napster) and mail it back.

She lived in Kansas for most of my childhood, and there were always people around, dropping in to eat lunch or work on the puzzle or watch her cuss at the squirrels that were chasing away the birds from the feeder outside the window. She loved bird-watching and there was usually a bird book laying around to identify the various species that passed through Rush Center.

She grew up in the Midwest during the Great Depression and remembers having to shovel out the dirt that blew in the house during the Dust Bowl. She raised 8 kids on a farm and my mom says they never knew they were poor...somehow a family of 10 and countless cousins and visitors got fed at every meal whether there seemed to be enough to go around or not. There always was.

When you visited, there was always a cake or a pie on the table when you got to her house, whether you had driven all night or all day to get there. She had an awesome cream puff recipe.

I'd like to think my sense of snark and good times was passed on from my grandma to my mom to me and my siblings...we're a funny bunch. A few years ago Grandma moved into an assisted living home where she had her own room and still lived independently but had to abide by a few "house rules" including "No Smoking." I remember we were walking back to her room and she motions to my mom to come closer and whispers to her..."Can you hide a cigarette in the bathroom for me?" I think she wanted mom to stash one in the potpourri holder or something. Mom, of course, did not comply, but it had us in stitches...and hey. It was a good idea!

So those of us who won't see her for a while are a little bummed, but you can't be too sad about a long life with lots of family and a legacy like Grandma's to show for it. May we all be as blessed and live such full lives.


Thursday, November 22, 2007


It's been an interesting week. I was trying to come up with some sort of poignant Thanksgiving post so you all could go eat turkey and tofurkey and think, "Man, that was brilliant. Pass the mashed potatoes." But...I think you all know gratitude in your own ways and I hope I express my gratitude to all of you enough on this blog. I probably don't, but I try.

Last night I saw barely 21'ers and grandparents and mid-life-crisis sufferers and moms and daughters and uncles and aunts...all crammed into the Continental Club watching James McMurtry play a show at midnight. On a Wednesday. It was poetry, and the proof that what we all need is a song with a point was quite evident. People got it.

Right now I'm pretty thankful for this poppyseed kolache for breakfast.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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Monday, November 19, 2007

A little Noodle Scar

Noodle Scar. I don't know why it's funny, but it is. Bonny Pierzina cracks me up. And this is about ponies and prancing, two of the funniest things ever. Enjoy a some Monday-of-the-holiday-week humor.

From NoodleScar.com

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Saturday, November 17, 2007


I just saw an amazing show at the Cactus Cafe tonight with the Terri Hendrix Band. Paul Pearcy opened the show, and he's Terri's longtime drummer/percussionist who happens to write great songs and play guitar, too. Glen Fukunaga, the ever-steady bassist, was in fine form. Lloyd was kicking arse on guitar/mandolin/papoose/dobro...and Terri. Oh, Terri. She picks a mean guitar, plays a great harp, and seriously hit some notes I did not think possible from a human. It was glorious. The best thing is that Terri writes these songs that are positive.

I know.

I listen to a LOT of sad folk because I LOVE it and I write it, too...but Terri takes you to church and makes you want to sing along and hug the people next to you and go out into the world and conquer it. Not in a trite or sappy way...in an empowering "yes, this is the way it's supposed to be and this is music's place in the world" sort of way. Makes me proud and honored to be a musician. Makes me want to put that sort of thing out into the world. There's a lesson in that.

I love learning lessons on Saturday nights.

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Happy Birthday, Kate!

Seems to be a lot of us crazy Scorpios around these days. I'm playing a gig in Austin tonight, but my good friend Kate Hearne is celebrating her birthday up in Winnsboro, TX and I'm definitely there in spirit.

One of the coolest parts of the Life's A Song workshop in October was meeting a bunch of people who I immediately connected with. Kate was one of them...when I heard her play a song around the campfire (the prevelance of campfires in my life is interesting) the first night of the workshop I was blown away. We jammed a little bit that night and workshopped together all the next day and stayed up until 4 AM writing a tune the next night.

Kate is a young one! She's turning 18 (if her bio isn't lying, haha), and she is one of the most accomplished guitarists I have had the privilege of playing with.

Here's Kate playing her song "Shine" at Life's A Song with none other than Lloyd Maines...

Happy birthday, Kate! Here's to many more songs and adventures. :)

Kate's Myspace

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Campfire Birthday

Wow, what a fun night! Thanks EVERYONE. You even braved the cold to come hang out. Luckily, the fine folks at the Irie Bean made us a fire and no one had to burn their guitar for fuel. (Thanks, Angela, Jay, and Raf!)

I met Julie and Greg for the first time (we have mutual friends and they are new to Austin - welcome, kids!), and without even knowing me, they got me one of the coolest presents ever. A Tater Mitt. That's right...As Seen On TV...and now I can peel a potato in under 8 seconds. I can't tell you how many times I have had the need for a potato but not enough time to peel it. Click that link for the video. It makes me happy.

Here's Katie modeling the Mitt of wonder.

Katie pays attention and once I said to her, "I always wanted one of those giant super balls as a kid. I never got one." So what did I get? Not only a giant super ball, but one with GLITTER inside, that MOVES. It's like a glitter-super-ball-snowglobe. Heck yeah. I'll be entranced for days.

If there was a campfire jam during a nuclear winter, or perhaps post-apocalypse, I think this is the color scheme it would be.

We ended up doing a song circle around the fire, and it was so great to hear everyone. Josh Britt and Kalu James and Amanda Pearcy (and Jesse!) and Melissa Mullins and Matt D'Orazio and even my good buddy Nic (Irie Bean open mic host extraordinaire) jammed on a song. And Katie Lessley, when not tater-mitting, busted out some fine guitar chops and sang one of her lovely tunes. As my college-friend-now-in-Austin-for-grad-school-because-she's-smart Catherine said, I wish I could have a recording of all the tunes from the evening.

I have awesome neighbors. Talented ones, too.

Come see Amanda and I swap some songs this weekend...Friday night at Austin Java and Saturday at The Oaks!

Let's do this again. Maybe in a year. Thanks, kids. :)

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Ruminations from a 25-year-old.

Well, I’m happy. I act like 25 is scary but whatever. I don’t feel old but I feel less young. That’s not a bad thing. Things I know:

- If you would have told me as a 12 or 17 or 20-year-old where I’d be, what I’d be doing, and the circles I have the privilege of being in now, I wouldn’t have believed it. And I would have secretly hoped it would be true anyway.

- Stuff doesn’t freak me out much anymore. I spent a good deal of my life tied up in knots. It’s not worth it. People are people, stuff happens, you make your own way.

- Wanting to impact the world in a positive way is not a naive, vague, youngish statement to make. Being optimistic is the new black...everyone’s doing it.

- Wanting to be an artist/writer/musician is something that has been programmed into me, and I can trace it all the way back to conducting symphonies on the couch with a chop stick as a baton.

- Yay chop sticks!

As a 25-year-old, I plan to:

- Make my first fully produced EP.

- Get paperwork and legalities in line to officially form my business with Josh. Our record label will be handling its first release this year!

- Be working full time in music, however that may be cobbled together.

- Sit back and appreciate everything thus far and look forward to what is coming. In-the-moment checks are essential things.

So, to check in with THIS moment...if you made it this far...thanks for reading the commentary on all these little bits of life. It means a lot.

Now I’m going to bed. Party at the Irie Bean tomorrow night! Come on over.

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Blonde on Blue Live in Taos: Nov. 7, 2007

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Day 4: Red River

We left Albuquerque around noon Saturday for the final gig and the return trip home. The drive back up through Santa Fe and Taos was just as pretty as the first time, and we made it to Red River by about 5 PM. The Motherlode is a restaurant and bar attached to a gorgeous lodge right along the main street of Red River.

Apparently, there is something in the water there because Red River draws a lot of Texans, and more importantly a lot of really awesome musicians. There was a “jamboree” kind of atmosphere after Susan’s second set, and time after time each new musician that got up and played was awesome. They said it’s like that every Saturday night. Maybe I just let Red River’s secret out. If there’s a sudden influx of people, it’s probably this blog’s influence. Actually probably not but I’ll take the credit.

So that’s that. Now Susan and I are in Amarillo about to embark on the last leg. We’re listening to a book on tape and last night we were counting the number of times the author used the verb “gazed” -- things like that stick out when books are read out loud. “She gazed at her cell phone.” “He gazed into the pool.” “The dead body was gazing at nothing in particular.” (It’s a murder mystery). We have to finish it today or else I’ll never know whodunit. Dun dun DUN.


Saturday, November 10, 2007

JP Project No. 2 is officially done...

Wow. What a fun, fun night. Thanks to EVERYONE who came out to the show and packed the place. It was great seeing old friends and meeting new ones. Susan played an absolutely marvelous show full of new songs and old songs and everything between that was just perfect. Josh likened it to a Storytellers session and that's what it was.

MANY thanks to Gary and Janet for hosting this show at their place...as you will see below, this house is truly the Perfect house concert venue. A view of the city, lots of room, and a lovely space. They let us move furniture and have 50 people over. That's pretty dang cool.

Off to Red River for a show at the Motherlode! Back in the car...

Josh and I did a little morning prep. Setlist writing, etc.

That would be the list. I even stuck to it. Amazing.

Setting up the space...

I like to stand around and look important.

Sound checkage.

These were our dedicated bartenders and merch girls...Beth and Rochelle did a fabulous job!

Our Special Guest Susan Gibson made the evening absolutely grand. Thanks, Suz! :)

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Friday, November 9, 2007

Morning Of: The JP Project 2007

Funny side note: I met up with J yesterday to catch up and plan for tonight and he plops down a Timbuk2 bag next to mine, one of his I had not seen before. They are twins! We must think alike. Anyway...

We're up early and J and I will be erranding today to set up JP Project Number 2, with Susan as our very special guest. We're pretty psyched, because in our book...there is no cooler special guest than Susan Gibson.

Here's the email we've been sending to RSVP'ers, all about this annual shindig:

"What is this "project"? Last year my business partner Josh and I decided to throw a house concert for all the good peeps in Albuquerque because living in Austin really cramps my New Mexican social life. Plus, you all were essential in the forming of my singer/songwriter life - from coming to gigs to buying the records...some of you even came to guitar concerts when I was in high school. Whoa. Josh and I realized we have a huge network of supportive people and we want to thank you all. This is Year Two and we're very excited to make this an annual event, so that wherever we might be you all know that when November comes around we'll be rolling into town with a special guest. (We have good taste -- you'll always love our guests. :)"

J's schedule this morning says "Year # 2 of 50" -- that's a lot of planning to do! Better get on this one. :)

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Thursday, November 8, 2007

Day 2: Taos, Santa Fe, and ABQ

Back in Albuquerque. Very late. We started the day with Taos Heart Cafe's awesome coffee and scones, and Susan was totally jonesing for some pottery, so she is taking home a piece or two. Smart girl.

Jamie and I went searching for the Hog Farm commune, home of Wavy Gravy. According to the tour guide book there is some adobe and an old bus left, and we are counterculture hobbyists so we wanted to see it. We failed to find anything resembling something Wavy Gravy would have founded. Lots of adobe, lots of old busses, none on the same lot. Oh well, next time we'll use a better map.

Forgot to mention that on Day One we walked across the Taos Gorge Bridge. Glorious view and a looong way down.

Fun playing in Santa Fe at the Brewing Company again...songswapping with Suz is always such an honor. I love having the best seat in the house for those kind of shows! Thanks to you kind folks who hung out for the show and said hello after.

JP Project No. 2 tomorrow night....very excited. Bed time!

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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Day One: Taos Heart Cafe Live

Sitting in the back of Taos Heart Cafe in gorgeous north New Mexico listening to Susan play a brand new song. Life's pretty good. I did not attempt my brand new song. She called me chicken. I'm so gonna do it tomorrow night.

This venue is lovely, and Jack and Mark have a great and welcoming atmosphere. Jack just told me this is their first night to have live music, and I played the inaugural song. That's pretty cool. Thanks for the gig, guys!

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Day 1: Ready for Taos

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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Austin to Albuquerque...Day 0.

The Austin airport is excellent testing grounds if you are thinking about buying multi-colored-yet-still-oddly-brownish carpet.

Excellent reading material provided by Professor Dan. He was right when he said you can replace every sentence that contains "comedians should..." with "performing songwriters should...". We're in the same line of work. Explanatory blog post on this to follow once I finish the whole book.

Tomorrow it's breakfast with my Life Guru, meeting up with J, and then ROADTRIP!!! to Taos with Jamie, my cohort from the dorm days in college and ever since. Very excited. More blogs to come.

Sleep time.

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Monday, November 5, 2007

Let's do this thang.

Yes, she does. Which is why I am quite pleased to be meeting Ms. Gibson in New Mexico this week to play some shows. I am currently a fluster of packing and re-packing and tossing around and freaking out. The plane leaves tomorrow. There's not much you can take on a plane, compared to a whole car load. Thankfully I am hitching a ride back with the headlining act, so I can spread out more. Heaven.

I just got the coolest birthday present ever, and my birthday is still 2 weeks away. I won't reveal it because...I need to take pictures, and it's not "set up" yet. :) Thanks, dB!

All right. There will be much blogging and video to come, kids. Stayed tuned in, and if you are in New Mexico...come say hi!

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Sunday, November 4, 2007

Photo Essay: GoGirls MusicFest in Houston

Hi. What's happenin'? There's a chicken on my shirt. Self portrait no. 489202.

Stopped traffic in downtown Houston. Chance to take not-so-blurry photo.

GoGirls MusicFest 2007 at the Last Concert Cafe!

Self portrait no. 489203.

Where's my percussion section?

Heather my roadie, navigator, chauffer, hotelier, photographer, and good buddy.
Houston's a nice place!

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Thursday, November 1, 2007

j.Po Thots: Maybe I really am in grad school.

I play in Houston this weekend and New Mexico next week, and I am preparing for these gigs with some allergies that I've never dealt with before and the general nit-picky setlist/gear stuff. Normally a cause for freaking out, because the logical voice-in-my-head says:

"Dude, you can't help it. You have allergies. Your throat is gonna die."

"Duuuude. Winging it is cool. It's spontaneous and exciting!"

"Dude. Buy extra batteries in New Mexico if you need them. Walgreens are EVERYWHERE."

But no (and yes I call myself "dude" and when we hang out I'll call you "dude," too). You don't walk into a test without having read the book (well, mostly...if you're in grad school you're probably past being an academic slacker). And you don't just accept that fact that you don't "get" a certain part of your field. You study it, you dissect it, and you take it in, and you own it. You see how many facets there are in your field and you address each one until you master it at the level you need to.

So this week Dan and I worked on a little teeny tiny bit of "outward" because I will be playing a bunch of gigs next week and that is very outward. A little stagecraft study helps a LOT, and we are going to go indepth with it more next year (these next few months are still all about "inward").

At the Life's A Song workshop I talked with Terri about good and bad things for your throat when you're sick, and she recommended some mucous-clearing natural remedies. Pineapple is good. Most of those sprays and stuff on the market contain alcohol which...guess what? Just dries you out. Bad alcoholic spray. You taste like candy but you are oh so dangerous.

Also, I had to ponder long and hard about setlist order, flow, and how my wacked out tunings relate to each other for maximum ease of switching song to song. It's like building a short story every night. It's kinda cool.

So folk music grad school involves a little bit of acting and stagecraft study, a little bit of anatomy and medicine, and a little bit of storyboarding.

And a LOT of practice and experimentation. Excuse me while I go wrap a tambourine in a towel and step on it.

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