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


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Monday, March 31, 2008

Two Years :: Part 1/5

"Who doesn't know what I'm talking about? Who's never left home, who's never struck out to find a dream and a life of their own? A place in the clouds, a foundation of stone?"
- Wide Open Spaces (Susan Gibson)

I moved to Austin in May of 2006, just about 2 years ago. I had graduated the previous December, moved back to my parents’ house, and taken a month-long road trip to Seattle and back in a 2-door Hyundai. After another month of unsuccessful internet job hunting, my buddy Beth and I drove to Austin for 3 days. I found an apartment in 1.5 days of looking. I packed up all my stuff and Mom and Dad helped me bring it all down on Memorial Day weekend. I still had no job and knew no one. I settled in a studio apartment and spent the 100 degree days mooching wireless internet from a neighbor looking for jobs online. I hit the open mics by night, meeting some good people. I was rather impressed with all the music around me.

I listened to this song all the time around then. I'm listening to it again a LOT recently. It makes me smile.

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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Another Weekend...

Another day of busking!

The Rites of Spring Festival in Lockhart was fun...I played a set on the main stage and then headed over to my Artist Market buds and played for another couple of hours where they were set up. There was free kettle corn involved so I was pretty much stoked.

Today was spent helping to prepare for the Red Leaf School of Music First Anniversary Show -- which, by the way, is NEXT Saturday, April 5th at 5 PM. Go go go. One whole year is great news for a new business!

I also spent some time gathering paperwork to copyright a new batch of songs and such. So many forms. So many things to file. I need to get a DBA for a publishing company, too. Psyched. A little task but meaningful to me! I'll let you know what I'm naming my publishing company when I file it, because that means I can't change my mind haha.

Tonight it's off to record the last bit for the EP. We wanted to be done with tracking by April 1, and it looks like our deadline is met. Good.

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Friday, March 28, 2008

Dear Jana Water; You Did It Again.

To the springs of St. Jana and the fine folks at the Jana Water Company...

Y'all rock.

See, as you saw in my previous post about Jana Water (which I discovered traipsing around New York this winter), the people at this company are amazing. And the water tastes dang good, too. So when they sent me a few boxes full of water and goodies, I was thrilled. And I have gone about my uber-hydrated state of existence ever since...and that was that.

Except last week, on a fairly humdrum day, I get a package. A box that says, "JANA" on the side.

No. No way.

Yes way. More Jana Water!!

Pile of water.

This time, in too cute mini-bottles. I passed some around to my co-workers and drank one or two, and when I got home I piled the rest on my papasan chair just to show you all exactly what a pile of water looks like. THAT, folks, is a pile of water.

Now, I can take things at face value. Water is one of those basic elements for life (unlike pancake mix, which I will fight hard for, but it doesn't have the staying power of Air or Earth). Anyway, I could have just drank (drunk?) the water and been happy. But that's not how I roll. So in order to show my appreciation to the folks at Jana Water, I wanted to show them that the benefits of their mini-bottles can extend long past the actual drinkage of the H2O.

Pencil holder. Obviously. Simple yet refined.

Bookends! When you care enough to prop with the very best.

Something near and dear to my heart: the tip jar.
No question who that tip is for. None at all.

Susan Gibson has a song with the line, "Plastic Jesus on my dash."
Have you ever considered a Plastic Jana on your dash?

Bottleneck slide guitar. The Jana Tone.

Lifting weights was never this refreshing. Exercise and hydration all in one.
(Please don't mock my guns. I just joined a gym. Soon I will be at the gun show).


At the site I linked to above for St. Jana, there are reviews of the water that comes out of the spring in Croatia. I'm going to paste a few here.

"This is THE smoothest water I have ever had. I can drink 500ml in a few seconds and it feels like I have only had a couple sips :)"

Jana: Water for Chugging.

"mmmmmmmmmm taste so great!!!!!
i just cant live without jana!!"

I think this might go on the side of my tour van and on all my t-shirts.

"Ich geniesse dieses wasser sehr. ich habe alle wassermarken in kroatien ausprobiert und diese schmeckt mir am besten."

Which, translated via Babelfish, roughly comes out as:

"I enjoys this water very much I all water out marks in Croatia tried and these tastes to me best."

Amen. Amen.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Milk and Cereal

This morning I realized I am almost out of Cheerios, after I had just bought a couple of cartons of soy milk (which is really soy juice but whatever). So within the next day or so it's off to the store (again) to get more cereal. Inevitably, because I don't care to gauge how many cups of cereal line up with the amount of milk I have...I will have to go to the store and buy more milk because I have extra cereal on hand.

This got me to thinking about those two industries and their co-dependence. I don't know for sure, but you'd think that the cereal industry would invest mightily in the milk industry and vice versa. Different products entirely, but most people these days don't consume one without the other. The health of the milk industry is forever intertwined with the health of the cereal makers, and since we don't buy them in equitable amounts, the endless cycle of "out of milk need cereal / out of cereal need milk" continues.

What is the milk to the music business' cereal? What do musicians invest in to ensure a forever?

Or maybe music is one of those rare cereals that just tastes good on its own. Thoughts?

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tuesday Night

You can tell my level of tiredness by the creativity (or lack thereof) in my post titles. I am working on a series of posts for next week (one a day!) that might explain my strange posting schedule as of late. Things are still shifting...though I feel like they have been shifting for about 16 years, haha. Good things, all...and patience is one of those virtue things they talk about, I hear.

I got some new music so I am currently delving into Emmylou Harris, Jon Dee Graham, The Band, Springsteen, Lyle Lovett, and Kim Richey. Emmylou blows me away, always.

I got more Jana Water in the mail from the nice folks there...a blog post about that is coming too for sure. Next time I'm in NYC I'm going to knock on their office doors and say hello. I hope they don't call security. I'll wear close-toed shoes, I promise!

I really want to write a song right now. That and drink water.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

13 Questions.

Over on Adam Levy's website, he has a list of 13 questions he sends around to guitarists he likes, and shares their answers with the world. Now, I've never met a list or a survey I didn't like...so I'm ripping off Adam's questions (with credit to him, of course). We've never met but I hope we do one day, and I hope he doesn't say, "You're the kid that stole my questions," haha.

1. Which was the first record you bought with your own money? Mary Chapin Carpenter's "Stones in the Road". 1994.

2. Which was the last record you bought with your own money? Kathleen Edwards' "Asking for Flowers" - I'm a release day nerd for certain artists, and this one just came out.

3. What was the first solo you learned from a record — and can you still play it? Probably something from a Mary Chapin record. In high school I took guitar as an elective and we learned "Red House" by Hendrix (Jimi) note-for-note. And I forget how to play it.

4. Which recording of your own (or as a sideman) are you most proud of, and why? The EP I am working on right now. It represents progress in all forms to me.

5. What’s the difference between playing live and playing in a studio? My thoughts about recording have changed since working on this EP. Dan works to create a very relaxed, fun studio atmosphere. So it's not a "studio" and we're not "making a record." We're playing songs. Which is how I feel about playing live. Achieving studio slickness isn't on my current list of Must-Dos. Maybe it will be later, who knows.

6. What’s the difference between a good gig and a bad gig? Frame of mind. When I decide to show up, it's a good gig. When for whatever reason I don't show up mentally, it could derail and usually does. I used to blame it on weather, guitar strings, crowd interest, and a multitude of other things...but it boils down to intention on my part.

7. What’s the difference between a good guitar and a bad guitar? I really have this intense fascination with anything with strings, so I think there's a purpose for every guitar. Even the $6 ones you get across the border in Tijuana. (I have a blue one). I have another one that is from Malawi...a friend in the Peace Corps had one of the kids in her town make me a guitar out of scrap metal, wire, and wood. It's full size and an amazing piece of work. I need to use it to record someday.

8. You play electric and acoustic. Do you approach the two differently? I feel more at home on the acoustic because I have played it more consistently for the past 7 years. Before that, though, I played electric guitar in a couple of high school bands and was much more practiced with it. This next year is all about guitar woodshedding (among other things). I'm pretty psyched.

9. Do you sound more like yourself on acoustic or electric? I'm hoping to develop the Jana Tone (TM) on electric over the course of the next few years...but I guess for all intents and purposes I am a songwriter who writes and performs my songs on an acoustic...so...acoustic.

10. Do you sound like yourself on other people’s guitars? I think so. I always enjoy trying other peoples' set ups, seeing what they do for their style and so on. Each guitar has its own personality, so I guess it's not about manhandling it into sounding like ME, it's just appreciating it for what it is.

11. Which living artist (music, or other arts) would you like to collaborate with? Mary Chapin Carpenter, The Edge, Kathleen Edwards. What I have been listening to lately, anyway.

12. What dead artist would you like to have collaborated with? Johnny Cash. Somehow...it might have worked.

13. What’s your latest project about? It's about being a baby songwriter but far along enough to be developing an identity. I'm over the part where I'm just trying to make a sound, any sound -- and I'm moving past trying to sound like anyone else. So my latest project is finding out what Me sounds like. And enjoying the ride doing just that.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I miss New Mexico today.

Photo courtesy of alaskan-girl


Monday, March 17, 2008

Beggin' you for mercy (ode to Mondays)

I think maybe it's Monday, and that requires a toe-tappin' jam track to get the week started right.

This was the free track on iTunes last week. I downloaded it. It's been stuck in my head. Never say I don't have an appreciation for a good pop song, hm?

Duffy - Mercy:

Oh yeah, and luck o' the Irish to you! Duffy is from the UK, which is closer to Ireland than Texas is...that's how I geographically roll.

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Friday, March 14, 2008

Quote - The Very Special Guest - Unquote

This evening was spent at a lovely SXSW week event called Love on the Lawn. Ooo, risque. No, actually it is a concert series that takes place outside a cool boutique named Love...and the show happens on the lawn. Love on the Lawn. Right. The 92 degree high calmed down with some nice breezes and some shade, so it was a perfect evening to see Susan, Patrice Pike, and Monica McIntyre among others. Amazing stuff from all.

We also had a Very Special Guest over to record some background vocals for the EP. This officially upped the number of people who get credits on the record by 33% (up to 3 from Dan and I). Math!

I like to treat awesome people who are amazing singers and also nice to me well, hence I actually WROTE OUT THE WORDS to the song she was singing with. I know. They call that the "extra mile" here in the music biz.

Right now it is obvious that I failed to document this Special Guest session at all,
and am making up for it by taking self portraits with pieces of paper.

A haiku:

Dear Very Special
Guest; Thank You. You are the best.
Best rhymes with Guest. End.

(I never was a haiku writer).

I will now break a cardinal rule of blogging and use an emoticon to express my feelings.


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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

San Antonio Webcast

It was lovely and glorious fun to hang out with Kelli and D.C. -- both Life's A Songers -- this past Sunday. The Scenic Loop Cafe is a ritzy kind of place for a folkie like me. Best wheat bread EVER, too.

Here's an archived version of the webcast. If you hit up the 2nd song, you'll hear a brand new one never before played out...when I decide to debut, I go all out and make sure it's on the internet forever, haha. I think it's called "West."

Watch live video from Wild West Webcast on Justin.tv

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Everyone's a Lobo: Woof woof woof.

(I kid you not, that was the school chant at UNM.)

We interrupt your regularly scheduled blog post for a trip down memory lane:

So one year I went to Homecoming and then we lost but that's ok because I got a tattoo on my cheek.

I'm glad it washed off. I got kind of worried that I had made a bad life choice for a while, and then Beth (she was my roommate) told me, "Jana, it's temporary." And I said, "Well if it's temporary why didn't I get six more?"

I am rather burnt in that photo. I think we sat on the sunny side of the stadium. Plus I wanted to show off as much cherry and silver as I could.

End of nostalgia break.

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Sunday, March 9, 2008

Reminder: San Antonio Webcast Today!

Heading down to San Antonio to meet Ms. Kelli King and get my song on! After I change my guitar strings. Ahem.

Here is the link to the live webcast. It starts at 6 PM Central time. Add and subtract at your leisure!


Now I'm just filling up space.

Go buy Kathleen Edwards' new CD.


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Saturday, March 8, 2008

Tracking EP 1

That title sounds like we released the EP into the bush in Africa and we're hunting it with tranquilizers. "There it is! Grab it!" Hehheh.

Much is done. I am about to meet Dan to listen to what we have, whereupon Dan will employ his very Zen, very swift editing skillz. Dan says that we are "90% done which means we're halfway there." It's true. We might be done with the tracking part (maybe), but then there's rough mixing and listening and mixing and mastering and who knows. All good!

In case anyone was wondering, because I kind of wonder who made the standard...Wikipedia says this about EPs:

"Extended play (EP) is the name typically given to vinyl or CDs which contain more music than a single, but are too short to qualify as albums. Usually, an EP has around 10–35 minutes of music, a single has up to 10 minutes and an album has 35–80 minutes."

Now you know.

I got to bring out the long-owned and underused Martin Backpacker, a little funky shaped travel guitar (my roommates in college called it "The Stick"). It's signed by John Jennings, who is one of my very favorite guitarists ever...he plays one onstage with Mary Chapin sometimes. Mine has been solely an at-home instrument until today. It was probably thrilled to get out of the house.

We re-listened to a tune called "Fortunate" that we recorded last night (and with which Dan showed the human side of being a good producer -- it's not all ProTools shortcuts! -- and talked me through doubling the vocals with harmony. My confidence in singing harmony was, shall we say...lacking. But I did it. Woot!). I think the vibe of "Fortunate" matches what it's all about and works really well. Dig.

Then we set to finishing "Blonde on Blue." A little banjo, a little piano, a little Backpacker, a little bass. All of the sudden you have a bunch of sounds to play with. Kids in a sandbox.

Now we listen to what we have for a week or two and see where it leads.

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Friday, March 7, 2008

How to make a record: Step One.

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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Live Webcast on Sunday - from San Antonio!

Y'all -- I'll be sprinting to lovely Leon Springs (near San Antone) this Sunday to feature at the Scenic Loop Cafe open stage run by my lovely and talented Life's A Song workshop roomie Kelli King (see? I told you we workshoppers travel in packs). The whole shebang gets webcast every week from Kelli's site and you can log in around 6 PM Texas time on Sunday the 9th to see moi...but it all starts at 4 PM so log in early, grab some popcorn, and hang out. You can even chat with us...I plan on bringing my laptop and being a tech-nerd, too. I know, shocking.

Wild West Webcast: j.Po onstage Sunday, March 9 at 6 PM (that's 5 PM if you live in New Mexico. Mom.)

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Monday, March 3, 2008

Gruene Hall

The Gruene water tower thing.

On Sunday I headed down to New Braunfels -- actually, to Gruene ("green") which as far as I can tell is in New Braunfels. It was Fred Eaglesmith weekend and Fred booked a festival at Gruene Hall. What band was playing the choice set right after Fred? porterdavis. Who needed a reliable Merch Girl to sell their CDs to the masses while they rocked the Fred Head (I kid you not) population? porterdavis. Heck yeah!

It was fun. Lots of good music. Audrey Auld Mezera was there, Band of Heathens was there, Darrell Scott was there (he wrote one of my favorite Dixie Chicks songs, "Long Time Gone"). porterdavis put on a heck of a show and won over the Fred Heads, which may now be termed...pd-heads. Or something. I need to think about that one.

Meet the producer. His name is Dan. He's cool.

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Saturday, March 1, 2008

Big Leaps

I really need to start taking photos more because otherwise, you're stuck with images of me like this one, sitting on my porch at 8 AM on a Saturday, blogging outside because I can't mooch a wifi signal inside. Thus is life, right? My mom made me that afghan. It's my favorite.

Well, we all safely leap yeared (ooo I gotta pay rent! And taxes!), and as far as I know we all woke up and world spins back on track for another 4 years. The grackles outside my window certainly woke up. At 6 AM. Loudly. I'm used to them now. We're buds.

I'm playing the artist market today (I hope the greyness goes away and lets out some sun), and there's a potluck tonight. Potlucks rock because no one brings something they hate, so there's always something people like to eat at a potluck, even if it's their own dish. Kind of like an open mic for food. "That guy before was horrible...but I played ok." Hehhehheh.


The new Tift Merritt record, Another Country, is superb. The song "Broken" is amazing. Oh, and here's the video. I love Youtube.

Next week is the new Kathleen Edwards album. Can't. Contain.

Thus ends your random Saturday post.

Also: things are happening, just be patient. I know I'm trying to be! That's why this post is called "Big Leaps." Ahem.

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