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


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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Connected or Not.

"Find the tempo at which you cannot make a mistake!"

Yesterday at my job we had a power outage that lasted quite a while. So long that we all just went home. There was no power to my desktop computer, and no wifi to get on with a laptop. No email, no Google calendar, nothing. Also it was pitch black in the bathroom. CREEPY!

Yesterday I also paid $3.09 a gallon to fill up my car. I realize that's probably cheaper than some areas of the county but I'm sure higher than others...and higher than I've paid in a while for sure. Will it change where I go? Probably not a whole lot...but it will make me think about planning trips and such around town a little more.

Makes me happy that for the most part, you can get a $5 set of strings for a guitar and use it anywhere anytime. It doesn't need gas, and it doesn't need power. It doesn't need to be connected via wifi to play a chord correctly. It always shows up to the practice session...I'm the more unreliable one on that front, haha.

I love being connected all the time and having info at my fingertips, but sometimes it's just nice to have notes at my fingertips. One note at a time, one chord at a time.


Sunday, February 24, 2008

Ode to the Albuquerque Tribune

A little piece of my growing-up years shut down yesterday...after 86 years of publishing, the Albuquerque Tribune has ceased to exist. It was the afternoon paper, and I guess people like morning papers, so now the only paper left in ABQ is...well, "the other one."

My parents always subscribed to the Tribune, and since they are current events savvy folk, I learned how to "read" the paper with them after dinner (though it was always just the comics and TV listings for me until I got a little older). When I was probably 8 or 9, they published an opinion piece that I had sent in. The topic? "Why I love cats." (I still do!) I felt like a real writer. They sent me a certificate to tell me so, too.

I got to know the columnists by reading them every week, and in some happy twists of fate, I had the pleasure of crossing paths with a few of the Tribune folk, too.

V.B. Price was one of my favorite professors in college. When he wasn't writing for the Trib or writing his own books and poetry, he was leading an amazing seminar on poetry and poets at UNM. I still have my final essay I wrote for that class with his words of encouragement to me as a writer inked on the last page. It meant a lot coming from him.

I got to know Kate Nelson and Gene Grant by virtue of working with them at KNME. I was an intern, they were the hosts of In Focus and The Line. They always treated us with respect on the set, even though we definitely had no clue what we were doing at the beginning, hehheh! I was a dang good water girl, though. Kate was exceptionally helpful and patient when we produced our own episodes at the end of our tenure. Gene was always one of my favorite Trib columnists, so I'll admit to being a little starstruck when I started seeing him around KNME...but he's simply a nice guy to talk to. (Right now I'm all paranoid that I am writing about writers and I just ended that sentence with a preposition. Oh well).

Me and Kate and producer Tish Bravo on the set of "By the People" in 2005.

I got to speak with Jim Montalbano for the first time when he called me here in Austin to interview me about going back to Albuquerque to play some shows with Susan last May. I think I probably rattled on nervously for too long, but he was great to talk to and the article was very cool. I thought it was neat to be an actual part of the paper I grew up with. I got to meet Jim when we went down to the Trib's offices to film a segment for TribVid with Michael Amedeo, another of the nice Tribunites. Of course we have video.

I don't mean to sound all funeral-like...the good thing is all these folks are great at what they do, and I am curiously awaiting where they'll pop up next. (Kate is already working for the Lt. Governor...good stuff).

So that's that. A newsroom full of nice people, great writers, and what I thought was the more cutting edge and technology-aware news daily in the city...cheers to the Tribune! Thanks for all the words.

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Oh Crazy Universe

One of the things Josh and I have always told each other is that with some of our ideas and goals, we just have to put them out there and have the universe take care of it. It's just a reminder that patience often pays off ten-fold. I think this whole week is an exercise in patience on both our parts. Remember when I posted on Wednesday that Josh was about to meet his newborn baby girl? Yeah, they're STILL waiting on that. They don't call it "labor" for nothing! Josh just let us know that the water broke, though. Sweet!

I was going to go up to Winnsboro to see Terri play and see my buddy Kate open the show...but alas I have some sort of eye infection thing happening and don't care to share that sort of love. So I'm home. Last night my buddy Katie and I were gonna go see Maria Bamford, who I think is one of the funniest comedians ever (I'm going to refrain from "comedienne" because I hate being called a songstress for whatever reason)...and the show times were unclear and we missed the show. Completely. Maria was onstage when we walked in...ending her set. The dude said she'd be back in 6 months. We'll go then.

So for whatever reason what was going to be a jam-packed weekend has fizzled a bit. I still got to hang out with Katie, and we laughed through a movie. Note...we laughed AT it, not WITH it. DO NOT SEE THIS MOVIE. At least don't pay for it...unless you have a snarky friend to go with you! Then it's ok.

This is a very "dear diary" blog. I guess I do those from time to time. It's not all chord theory, yo. But i do think I'll mess with some words and some chords tonight. I got my Martin back from being set-up and beautified, and it is a thing of wonder to behold, with a perfectly adjusted truss rod and newly adjusted saddle and nut. Ok I'm a guitar nerd. I own that.

Let's see what my newly revised weekend has in store, huh? Have a good one yourselves!


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Wednesday Night.

Usually Wednesday is my night of Red Leaf and voice and business mentoring and check-in time until laaaaate. Really late. But alas, Dan is rockin' with porterdavis at Folk Alliance in Memphis, so I get the Wednesday off. I used it to work on an instrumental I came up with on the looping pedal. It's not ground-breaking, but it is making me more comfortable with looping. I want to be gigging with that pedal by the summer. Here's to goals!

My business partner, Josh, is at the hospital right now...he's going to be a Dad! I claim honorary aunt-hood, because I do that. I'm a pro-aunt already with all my nieces and nephews, so I can handle another, haha. Yay!

At my guitar lesson we were messing around with chord voicings and such and Kevin happened upon the Peanuts theme "Linus and Lucy." So now I can play the main part of the theme. I'm not sure when that will come in handy, but I'm pretty sure it will one day. I love that song.

Time for bed.

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Terri Hendrix Band at the Cactus

Um, yeah. So Saturday night was cool. Any time Terri Hendrix plays at the Cactus, it's a good time. The place is always full, and it's a definite electric atmosphere. BettySoo started the night off with her fantastic tunes and some hilarious stage banter. Stage banter is an art form, and being hilarious while doing it is like...triple the talent. Go see BettySoo's web site for more joy (and fabulous design!)

Then it was time for Terri+Lloyd+Paul+Glen. I have pretty much gushed about their performances before, maybe a few times, perhaps...so in an effort to keep gushing to a minimum, we'll do a list.

- It was the week of Terri's birthday, so that was cool. Happy (late) birthday, Terri!

- It was also the birthday weekend of my friend Melissa, who I met at Life's a Song. (Once you attend a Life's A Song workshop together, you kind of just follow each other around all the time. Melissa studies at Red Leaf, too. See what I mean?) So Melissa was there partying it up with her awesome friends. They let me sit with them. That made me happy.

- Happy Birthday, Melissa!

- It was also, if you hadn't noticed, Valentine's week. Terri did a love song in honor of the holiday. It was called "The Masochistic Tango," and here's an excerpt:

Take your cigarette from its holder
And burn your initials in my shoulder
Fracture my spine
And swear that you're mine
As we dance to the Masochistic Tango

- I can hang with that kind of Valentine's Day song, hehheh. (That one's by Tom Lehrer).

Right. So...awesome show all around, and then it was time for the last 2 songs. Somehow, in some blinding awesomeness of Terri, I ended up singing a little bit o' harmony onstage with BettySoo and Melissa. Yep.

Ron Baker takes awesome photos, and he was kind enough to share!

Music is clearly all work and no fun.

Everyone had to duck so Paul could rock out on his solo.

And take a bow.

All those photos were taken/copyrighted by Ron Baker, and you can check out his most excellent collection of photos from this show, more Terri shows, and a BUNCH of great musicians in general at his Flickr site or here.

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

On Songwriting.

The key to songwriting - in terms of writing something other people want to listen to - seems to be:

- make it general enough that a group of people can identify with it.

- make it concrete and specific enough that it's meaningful to you, because the people listening feel that.

Simple, right?


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Friday, February 15, 2008

Dear Jana Water: I love you. Love, Jana.

Maybe you all remember (and by you all I mean those of you who catalog each blog post and archive them in your steel-trap mind) when I went to NYC and found delicious Jana Water sold everywhere. I thought it was neat. I posted a photo of me with the J-H2O and then came back to Austin, where there is no Jana Water. Only pools and pools of ok-but-not-as-satisfying "other" water. Then this morning it all went down like this:

TWO BOXES OF JANA WATER! From the Jana Water Company.
All the way from New York. Shucks.

This stuff is from EUROPE. Like ME.
There's a St. Jana. Not like me.

Apparently, St. Jana is in Croatia. Who knew?
Does anyone else find it ironic that you must store water in a dry place?

Each box weighed 28 pounds. That's FIFTY-SIX POUNDS OF WATER.
What does 56 lbs. of water look like?

It looks like this.
What does 56 pounds of water FEEL like when it comes in the mail in a box with your name on it?

It feels like this.

That's not all! The kind folks at Jana Water sent t-shirts and tote bags and baseball caps, too!!
Be still my swag-loving heart.

Not only is their name an excellent choice, they're a good company who respects the environment.
The tagline on the back of the shirt is "Refresh. Remember. Recycle."

What was that?
I'm sorry, I'm too busy drinking Jana Water while wearing my Jana Water shirt, hat, and kickbutt totebag.

Well that made my day. If you live in New York City, I recommend you make it your beverage of choice. You can also order it online, so even if you don't hang with the Big Appleians (Applets?), you can partake. Their website says it's going to go national. Maybe we'll go national together. Maybe I can sell my CD in chilled beverage freezers and they can sell their water in record stores.

At the very least, the kind folks at Jana Water are getting a few copies of the EP when it's in my hot (but well hydrated) little hands this summer...the least I can do.

I can't wear all those hats and shirts, kids. Stay tuned for some sort of crazy contest. Soon you too will have a chance of being in the club.

Music for the Masses. Lyrics for the Soul. Water for Life!

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

7 Weird Things About Me

I read...a LOT of blogs, kids. I RSS like a 6-year-old on pop rocks and Dr. Pepper. While scrolling today, up popped a post called "Seven Weird Things About James" from Men With Pens. I don't know James, but I certainly wanted to know how weird he was. He plays Mozart and knits. I don't think that's weird, I think that's well-rounded. Mine:

1. I never take the top of the stack of anything. If I grab a newspaper, a piece of paper at the office, or a coffee cup lid at a convenience store, you have better believe I am taking one from the middle. I don't want a lid someone else has touched, and I want my paper to be unread until I get to it.

2. I eat cereal for breakfast and cereal for dinner. A lot. Vanilla Silk soymilk and Kashi cereal are like...a bowlful of joy. I could probably eat it for lunch but I'm not into using a communal fridge. Also I would need more protein, haha.

3. I have a specific notebook for songwriting, and when it runs out I go to however many stores and browse however many aisles necessary to find the next songwriting book. Blank cover. No lines. Spiral bound. Hardcover. Thick pages for inky scratching. Barnes & Noble offered up the last couple. I'll probably need a new one by summer. They last about 1.5 years each. I am on number 4.

4. If my toes are cold, they will not warm up on their own accord. If I go to bed with cold toes I will not sleep. I will need to physically put something on them or soak them in hot water to get them to warm up. My college roommate got me a bag of rice that could be heated in the microwave and stuck under the covers. I loved that thing. It got to smelling funky after a while so I retired it. Then I had to move to Austin where it's always warm and I don't get cold toes.

5. I am learning to do it out of necessity, but I hate putting "stuff" on my skin. Lotion and chapstick are huge no-no's in my book. Gross. I like the smell of frou-frou lotion, but the sensation of oily stuff all over my skin is unpleasant.

6. I started learning guitar on a nylon-string (classical) guitar, and I learned a bunch of instrumental pieces in high school. Sometimes remembering the melody line and rhythm is easier when you have something to sing in your head...so one of my favorite pieces had me singing "I have a little kitty...he is so pretty," EVERY TIME I started that song. To this day I know how that song goes, except I haven't played it in 10 years.

7. I have a decorative plate of all the faces of the Presidents on it with Richard Nixon in the middle...because he was President at the time...BECAUSE THE PLATE IS THAT OLD. It was my Grandma's. She had an collection of plates hanging on her dining room wall, all of them pretty and flowery and shiny and whatnot...and then there was the Presidential plate. I, as her History major grandkid, had to have the Presidents. I think it's dang cool.

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Musical Therapy

"I dressed up for this blog post!!!"

I am learning about being a producer by watching (or I guess actively participating in) Dan producing my EP. Yeah, musical know-how and ProTools skillz are necessary, but as I discovered last week, it's probably about 60% therapy session, too.

See, we did the first 3 tunes with ease, and then it was time for "Blonde on Blue." Which...I like all my songs that are going on this EP (note to artists: like the things you are recording), but this one, affectionately called "BoB", was kind of the kickstart to a newish style of writing for me...and a new tuning...and maybe a new era. Not to sound all dramatic about it, but we do write in eras...or periods...or whatever you want to call them. So anyway, the bottom line is I wanted it to rock. And we had done marvelous things with the first 3, so my inner pessimist was saying, "It's time for a bad week." Which is ludicrous. But you can really psyche yourself out.

So anyway, of course it'll be fine. I'm excited for the next session. And if I am ever producing an album for someone else, I'll know it's not all about reverb and mic cables. Gotta have a safe place to make a good record, I think. Lesson #562!

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Another week = another weekend over

Weekend was good. Yes. I have been taking care to get enough sleep lately, which is kind of hardcore on my part. I figure I have plenty of whacked out sleep schedules in my future that now is the time to take advantage. That meant passing out at 9ish on a Saturday night. Lame. Does it count if I woke up at maybe 2 AM? But then I went back to bed. But I got up early this morning so it balanced out.

I got to help a good buddy record a demo yesterday morning on the Mac. These suckers are so handy. Plug and play, for reals. I also did it in ProTools, which was nice to have the confidence to mess around in that program a little more.

Both yesterday and today I decided to take a little bit more care of Writer Jana, because I haven't really worked on any songs for a while. I know it ebbs and flows but it's good to stay in practice. I journaled a little and I hope to start keeping that up again, and I think maybe I finished or almost finished a new song today? It's a combination of about 3 songs I have been trying to finish for months, so maybe they were just standing around awkwardly at the Jana Songwriting Dinner Party, waiting for me to introduce them. I'll try and be a better songlet hostess in the future.

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Saturday, February 9, 2008

Sorry New York City posted on Myspace

A little demo action for you -- amazing what you can do with just the external mic on a Mac and Garageband. This one came out of the Morning Writing sessions -- a 5:30 AM hello. It's not gonna fit on EP 1, but it might very well show up on 2 or 3. So you can say, "Hey, I heard that demo back in '08." Aught-Eight, as I like to call it.

Sorry New York City on Myspace.

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Friday, February 8, 2008

Get yer pour-on!

From the Institute of Official Cheer -- I don't usually just hand out a site recommendation, but this thing has had me giggling out loud for DAYS. It is so funny. This site contains a bunch of recipes, ads, comics, etc. from days long gone...when advertising wasn't...slick. And people ate Jell-o a lot. The snarky comments are so good -- but many times, like "glorifying" pancakes...the images speak for themselves. Can I get a glorified granola bar over here? I'm hungry.


Thursday, February 7, 2008

Congrats pd!

Well the official list of official SXSW showcases of officialness came out today, and you can bet that porterdavis is playing an official showcase gig at Antone's. Dan, Mike, and Simon work dang hard for everything they get, and no band in Austin deserves it more. Officially.

On a side note, check out that list. I mean...you could scroll for HOURS. There are several names I hope maybe I have a chance of catching -- I won't have a wristband but there's always the chance of an open show or an unofficial thing somewhere.

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Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Rock-n-Roll Singer's Survival Manual

I'm reading a book by Mark Baxter, Dan's former voice guru, and it's quite the good read. He approaches singing like we're approaching this whole folk music grad school thing...on a holistic level. Chapter one is all about general care-taking...it could probably stand to be the first chapter in a lot of "how-to" books. Basically, you sing what you are, so you should take good care of yourself. Points Baxter makes...

- I should quit smoking. Oh wait. I don't smoke, hehheh. But the description of burning your throat is enough of a permanent deterrent for me, I think.

- No dairy, not much meat, very little red meat. Well that's handy, too. I have had a year full of indecision, but I haven't eaten meat since I don't know when and I take extra care to be vegan in my food choices (still cannot turn down Mom's rhubarb pie, though!) It does make a difference, I think. So far, knock on wood, I have not gotten my usual winter cold (which could just have to do with the fact that it's not really winter in Austin, just mildly cloudy and 55 degrees. Brr.) But I also don't get phlegm in my throat anymore. Dairy makes phlegm. Veganism and throat health seem to co-exist in harmony.

- Stress. We all know stress takes a toll on your body. It takes a toll on your voice, too. Handling it makes for good singing, which I think makes for less stress. When I figure that one out, I'll let you know. If I ever let you know, it'll probably be from a small island and a beach chair.

The most interesting point is that most musicians are really obsessive about their instruments and the environments they live in. I won't leave my guitar in a car, I hate playing outdoors when it's reallyreally hot or reallyreally cold, I humidify if it's dry, I keep it in the case when I'm not using it (hanging your guitar on the wall is bad for it! Stop that!). But your voice IS an instrument, and the throat gets some pretty bad treatment sometimes. Even just standing near a street and inhaling a big cloud of smog will knock you out for a while. Would you stick your guitar in a BBQ grill?

I type this as I drink a Coke, which is...well, nothing natural. Clearly I've not mastered the treatment of my voice, but it's good to be thinking about these things.

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Monday, February 4, 2008

Congrats to Kina!

Wow, kids. Wow!

Kina Grannis, from California and also recently Austin -- won the Doritos Crash the Superbowl Contest yesterday. She got a deal with Interscope Records. That's pretty awesome.

I had the luck and joy of swapping songs with Kina at Club 115 once a while back (there's me with Josh Britt and Kina), and she's a great kid and a GREAT great songwriter and musician.

It's nice to see deserving people win these kind of things. Can't wait to see what the year has in store for Kina! Check out her website, and download her single from iTunes.

Doritos Crash Super Bowl Commerial: Kina Grannis

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Saturday, February 2, 2008

Keep Austin Kind

This is neat. I got it from Metroblogging Austin, a really great local blog about all things...local:

A police sting operation to catch purse snatchers was foiled when helpful Austinites kept warning the undercover policewoman that her purse was left unguarded. This from the meeting notes of the South West Area Command, Commander's Forum on January 28, 2008.

"A purse snatching initiative was tried by the command, but happily, concerned folks kept warning the undercover officer that her purse was open, unattended and watched out for her when she walked away and warned her of the error. No arrests were made."

It's a nice town! But don't move here, my rent will go up more, haha. Unless I like you. Then you can move here.


Friday, February 1, 2008

The week is wrapped.

Wow, kids. Again a stretch of days with no blog post. I know you have all been refreshing your RSS reader every 4 minutes to see if I have posted. Right.

I now interrupt this blog post to bring you Jana Water. Tasty and Delicious, Jana Water brings you 568 vitamins and minerals, tastes like sunshine, and is fortified with gold dust.

Hehheh aaaanyway...

- Recording is going WELL. We like to sit on tracks and take a listen the week following to see if what we did at 11 PM at night holds up...and so far 3 tracks down and none have been banished to the Mac Trash Can of File Doom. Last night, at about 12:30 AM, we decided it needed hand claps. And clap we did.

- I am totally obsessed with Iron & Wine's album The Shepherd's Dog. I bought it in NYC and have had it in rotation ever since. His style of making records is great inspiration. He also makes a lot of his own music videos. I like that. Here's A Boy With a Coin. Listen to that riff!

Oh yeah, and hand claps! :)

- Starting to maybe get dominant 7ths and major 7ths....wee?