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


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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Be Intrigued.

I had some words tumble out the other day and I think they might be a chorus of a new song, but I'm not sure where they're going. All I know I like the words, the vibe, and the cadence. Bottom line, whatever my pen inked out is intriguing to me, and now it's like a fun scavenger hunt.

That's what songwriting should be to the songwriter each time; intriguing.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

EP 1 Cover: Lyrics

Lyrics! On the cover! At first I'll admit I thought, "None of the CDs I own have lyrics on the cover." Which really, all the more reason to do it, right?

It also serves as a hint to people popping the disc in for the first time...what are they supposed to be paying attention to? I worked hard on all those words all over this record, so it's nice to give them a little up front feature. Yes, I am the one that will sit with the difference between "the" and "a" for hours when I'm editing a song. An article is important. The article is important. See?

I chose the words from "Blonde On Blue" because it's the tune that kind of set the tone for the rest of my writing for the year. One might call it my favored eldest child, haha.


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Welcome to Texas, Jana Water!

So the other day (and by that I mean maybe last month when Beth visited), I was perusing the aisles of water at HEB looking for...water. Beth and I were about to go on our river trek, so we needed hydration. All of the sudden what do I see next to all the so-so bottled water products?


For sale! In Texas! Welcome to the state, kids. It's friendly to Janas and you will like it here. Now I won't have to go out of state to get my fix.

Of course we had a camera.

Sweet nectar of life!

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Friday Randomization of Text

Greetings from my mechanic's waiting room, where they are cool enough to have wifi. No problems, just new belts for the car before I go to New Mexico in a week or so. No breaking down in the middle of somewhere!

I think I'm dehydrated as I feel my face shriveling up while I type. That's interesting. To me, anyway.

We're busy getting mastering of the EP all set up and ready to do, the artwork is coming along nicely, and I need to get some paperwork in line today. Filling out forms is ok if it's for something fun, I have decided.

I am currently enthralled with Sugarland's new CD, "Love on the Inside." As I have mentioned before, they are one of my guilty Nashville pleasures, and they did a great job with this new record (please do not judge by the first single...it's summer fun but the rest goes a lot deeper). Jennifer Nettles' voice is fantastic.

It's also neat that they released a version with bonus material FIRST, and will release the "normal" album in a few weeks. Usually artists release a record and then a year later you can buy the "Bonus Track" version which just makes the diehard fans buy things twice. This is the way forward, methinks. Don't mess with your fans.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

EP 1 Check In


We are done mixing.

That is all!


EP 1 Cover: Some Text

Another piece of the EP cover. Yes, we did favor in putting my name on the front, haha. I decided not to go with my picture on it. The trend seems to be not to, and really...we're not in Nashville. If I wore a cowboy hat I would probably have to put that on the cover. Eek.

That is not the complete title...but it does start with "The."

PS: I think in my tired stupor I accidentally published a post that just gave away the whole thing, haha. So maybe if you have an RSS reader, maybe you know. Maybe. Too funny. I will make better note of "drafts" next time!


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Merch Girl Shoe Saga

Back from Denton and Ft. Worth...great trip again, even with a wardrobe malfunction on the part of my flip flops. Ahem. When we pulled up to the gig in Denton, the plastic part that enables the "flip" in the flip flop broke. I started loading in the merch barefoot because...well, what else could I do?

Sad shoe times.

Load in attire.

It was then that a good friend of Suz's and now a friend of mine I am ever indebted to randomly found a pair of foam flip flops in her car from a pedicure she had recently gotten. They were even a nice green accent to my old pair! I rocked one of each for the night.

Stylin'. Thanks, Nichole!

Except the pedicure flop was not meant for rocking the merch counter all night, so by the end I had destroyed that one, too. Bare foot again, I was.

Note the flip flops at the top that are NOT on my feet, at the bottom.

The next day Susan was kind enough to swing by a Wal-Mart and I picked up an appropriately green pair with an "egg crate" sole that felt fancy on my feet. She's a nice boss.

Ah, sweet comfort.

At the White Elephant Saloon in Ft. Worth, there were some awesome shoe shine dudes working in the back of the bar. Susan had her boots shined, and asked what they did for flip flops. They gave me a foot rub and polished my flip and my flop! Amazing. Perks of the job, I tell ya.

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Friday, July 18, 2008

EP 1 Cover: More

So last time I showed a little piece of the cover it was just whiteness. Mean, I know...but really. It's white, what can I do? This piece is still white, but lo and behold...there's more. No, it's not symbolic of a hole in the ground or an upside down haybale.

It's a wheel! This is where Emily did an excellent job of fitting in that driving theme in some of the songs...there's a vehicle on the cover. That's one of my favorite parts about this job...I have gotten to see a bunch of really cool parts of Texas and New Mexico over the past two years under the auspices of playing music...really I'm just there to be a tourist, haha. More of a draw than the views are the people and characters in each place (even ghosts!). I think nothing informs my songwriting more at this point than travel...you hear stories told from a different perspective and nothing creates a canvas in my mind like a little open road.

The first draft of the cover kind of went for a car design of the one I am currently driving -- which is small and gets kickbutt gas mileage and can hold a surprising amount in its hatchback. But I asked Em to change it to the kind of vehicle I would LIKE to tour in...that goal has also informed a lot of these past 2 years of work and scheming. A little tribute to the ideas that remain in my head.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Live at Dan's Silver Leaf - Denton, TX

Yes, I think I do have the BEST job in the world.

Great show, Susan.

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Merch Girl Strikes Again

Y'all, I'm taking off today in the Gibson van to sell merch this weekend up in Denton and Ft. Worth...or should I say, the "Number 34 and climbing on the Texas Music Chart" Gibson van. You go, kiddo!

I'll probably Twitter a lot, so check out that box to the left of the blog.

(Points to whoever can figure out that clock I drew, because I don't have any clue what time we're getting back. Maybe the ghetto clock knows).

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Sesame Street Goals

My friend Mary pointed this out to me, and it is awesome:

Feist put out a lovely record last year, and "1 2 3 4" was in one of the iPod commercials...but as a kid raised on Sesame Street, there's no cooler remake than something that involves Muppets and counting.

I don't know what song I'd re-do. Maybe "paper beats rock and rock beats scissors" could turn into an order of operations math song about "parentheses beats exponents beats multiply and divide beats add and subtract." Hmm, not quite the ring. Oh well.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

EP 1: The Cover

Folks, we're going to have some fun and reveal the cover and title of EP 1. But I'm not going to do it all at once. The way I see it, there's still a while before this little disc is in all our hands in shiny shrinkwrapped form, so I have time to drag this out. Plus, Rolling Stone does it with their covers in their blog by revealing only a little square and making people guess who it is...so why can't I?

Here's the first little square of EP 1:

Pretty, ain't it?

No, this is not an attempt at The White Album. My very wise and thoughtful ex-boss, Karen, told me earlier this spring when I was stumped on album cover vibe that I should sit in a dark room with the tracks on headphones and try and visualize the color and texture of the songs as a whole. I tried it, and because quite a few of the tunes are about driving or were written about being on the road or some metaphorical state around that...I thought maybe I was getting "road colors" confused with what the actual RECORD colors are.

When it was time to give Emily, trusted friend/killer graphic designer/voice teacher at Red Leaf, an idea of what I was envisioning, I told her about the road colors -- the sky blues and the asphalt greys and the wheat field yellows. But I also gave her a slew of CD covers from other artists that I loved, and she caught on to the Feist/Imogen Heap trend:

So Emily gave me a batch of directions to choose from and sure enough, the color was white and it fits. Simple and clean, straightforward in intention and not attached to a whole lot. There's more, of course, but that's a square for another day!

Oh, and the title. Well, we have a while.


Friday, July 11, 2008

Good times and fire ants.

Terri Hendrix and her band played in San Marcos last night, so of course I made the drive down for a great show. I spent the first set sitting in the grass with some good friends, and even though I have been through this "concert on the lawn" thing countless times, I still forgot a blanket or a chair. My buddies kindly offered my some blanket space, but I thought...what the heck? It's just grass.

Grass with a bunch of ants in it. Fire ants, too, apparently. I got a nice stingy bite in my hand and by the drive home my finger was swollen. I'd show you which finger it was but I don't feel like flipping off the internet, haha.

The good news is my buddy Richard had a spare chair and I got to sit above the wildlife instead of in it for the 2nd set. Thanks, Richard!

Terri and the band sounded great and based on the new songs we have been hearing lately, I am super psyched for the next record. I think she must be superhuman, based on all the traveling she's been doing, hanging out with the Bhutanese and such in Washington, D.C., and still putting on a great hometown show at the end of it all. Props!

Also, a lesson: just because you're all comfy and ant-free in your lawn chair does not mean you will not called up to do a little singing sometimes. So much fun! Thanks, Terri.

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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Blonde on Blue

How I got the visuals for Blonde on Blue...

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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Random Check In and EP 1

I started this post in the van between Davis, OK and Freyburg, TX. Then I got distracted by the shiny lights of a convenience store stop. Here is it, plus some EP 1 news tacked on.

July 4th notes:

Oklahoma beer is different than other beer. By law, beer sold in Oklahoma must have a 3.2% alcohol content, which is different than the usual percentage of, well...everywhere else. You CAN buy full strength beer, but it has to be at a store that sells beer and liquor only, and they can't refrigerate it. It intrigues me that someone thought about this so thoroughly. So apparently it's a big deal to have "Texas beer" in Oklahoma...stronger stuff. It doesn't seem to taste any different, but it might explain why my usual post-concert threshold was higher in Davis than usual. Ahem.

They keep talking about the "mountains" around the state and I saw no mountains. I remarked that perhaps a song hook could be, "I'm as high as an Oklahoma mountain and drunk on Oklahoma beer...and I'm still completely sober." (I kid...I had a great time there).

There is at least one Indian fusion music station out of the Dallas area, and today they were randomly interrupting the music to state facts about America, like how many people visit national parks in Washington state per year, and how many people immigrated through Ellis Island. I forgot both numbers. That was some wailing sitar, though.

Sometimes being a traveling musician means changing your clothes at stoplights, or perhaps changing your shirt while driving.

There are signs pointing the way to Hidden Lake along I-35 in OK. Doesn't that defeat the purpose of hiding the lake?

July 8th Notes:

The artwork for EP 1 is just about there. I'm so happy about it. Emily nailed the vibe...she sent a few options so now I have to do what I fear doing and...make a decision. Gasp.

The mixing for EP 1 is also almost there! The four tracks we sent to Dallas came back AWESOME. Some little back and forth to be done but man. Phil Hill is mixing them and he is the man. Sounds like a record.

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Monday, July 7, 2008

Day 3: At the Crossroads!

Thank goodness.

After surviving the night at the haunted hotel no worse for the wear and very well rested, I got up, explored the streets a little bit, and found breakfast at a Czech bakery. We picked up Susan's guitarist and made our way to Winnsboro. As of midnight I had shifted my official title to "Opening Act/Merch Girl," so it's good I didn't make a name tag or anything, cuz I just would have had to make another one. Right.

Job One: MERCH TABLE! I am getting dangerously efficient, haha.


Crossroads Music Co. in Winnsboro hosts a plethora of shows in their awesome venue, and I felt really honored to be able to play there and be in such good company. My good buddy Kate met us there and I handed her the camera...she did an excellent documentation job! Kate also rocked my set by agreeing to sit in on "New Mexico Boy," so there were tasty leads and good times for sure. Kate rocks. Unfortunately, both of us were onstage during that song so neither of us took a photo, haha.


We stayed up late hanging out by a lake outside of Kate's house...I want a lake. I bet you have to get lake insurance or something. And a boat. Maybe I'll get a lake later, after I get a cat and a puppy. Order of operations.

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Sunday, July 6, 2008

Day 2: Long Roads and Haunted Rooms

Well, as you can tell by now...no internet access for the past couple of days. Luckily I kept taking photos over the weekend and I'll just post in some time warp continuum. So...welcome to Friday, July 4th. Happy Independence Day!

The view when cruising.

After a great time in Davis, (and a lovely sleep in the swanky hotel followed by breakfast with some great new friends from OKC), we trucked out of town to Freyburg Hall, located outside of Schulenburg (somewhere between Austin and Houston...see kickbutt map below for exact routage, haha). The Ginn Sisters opened for Susan, and it was my first time seeing them live. Very cool, amazing harmonies, great people.

The SG band was rockin' and I did my thang with the merch table all evening...

See the evolution? See it?

Also, there was the biggest bowl of cole slaw I have ever seen present at this hall. I apologize for not taking a photo of it. Think of a big bowl of cole slaw, and then think of something BIGGER.

That night due to some miracle of generosity on the part of Susan and perks of her being a rock star, I got my own hotel room in Schulenburg. Susan was going to camp with her family, so she just dropped us band peeps off at the Von Minden Hotel. Discussion prior:

Someone at Freyburg Hall: "It's haunted, you know. The hotel."
All of us staying there: "WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?"
Susan: "Have fun! See you in the morning! Hahahahaha! Boo!"

Thanks, Suz. But it was pretty dang cool. The Von Minden Hotel was built in 1927, and is supposedly haunted by a woman who roams around asking guests for directions. She wears a polkadot dress.

The lobby...you can check in and dear Lord please let us check out...

Down the hall to our rooms. No ghosts yet.

Awesome staircase.

My room...number 7.

I ain't afraid of no ghosts! Repeat. Sleep well.

I'll admit I was too tired and passed out so completely that if a ghost poked me in my sleep to ask where the bathroom was, I never knew it. But we took some cool photos when we got there, and the next morning I got some more shots before we got picked up. Very neat place.

Less creepy in the morning. Still creepy.

So this crazy musical life has lead me down many interesting paths, but a haunted hotel was not even on my radar of possibilities. So much fun! And it was onward to Winnsboro...

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Friday, July 4, 2008

I'm not gonna lie...

...I'm kind of an awesome Merch Girl. We drove ourselves up to Davis, Oklahoma (well, Susan drove and I made snarky comments about dumb signs the whole way...sorry, Susan) and made it with a few hours to spare. Susan went and did a set for a group of Veterans because she's cool like that, and I stayed behind at our gorgeous hotel and concert venue, the La Ville Inn in downtown Davis, and sorted the goods. And sorted. Because Suz just put out a record. she's got all kinds of good merch to go with it. It was in tubs, so I started out by scattering it everywhere. My mind works better that way somehow.

T-shirt? Koozie? Sticker? Frisbee for your dog? I got ya.

Then I got to work.

Jana's Work Smirk (TM)

By the time the show started, the Merch table looked like this:

Sell! Sell! Sell!

The show was amazing. Susan played banjo (the first time I had ever seen that live) and did "Wayside," an old Groobees tune. Loves it.


Then she lead us all in a sing-along of "America the Beautiful." Indeed. We get to see some more of our beautiful America today as it's down to Freyburg (between Austin and Houston) for a show tonight, where hopefully the merch juju will be just as good.

Did I mention our hotel is awesome? We walked into the bathroom, which I swear has separate halls and wings unto itself, and looking in the ginormous shower stall Susan says, "Janapo, this shower is bigger than your last apartment!" This morning when I was taking advantage of the dual showerheads, I had to pretty much agree.

See you all at Freyburg Hall!

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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Winnsboro Gig+Merch Girl Duty

Well...I am hopefully all situated and ready to hit the road with Susan Gibson for the next few days. Can I say, I LOVE traveling with Susan? Adventures abound, and good music is the soundtrack. And her sweet dogs are usually along for the ride. Woot! I'll be acting as Merch Girl (that's an official title, mind you) and then move into Opening Act designation when we reach our final gig in Winnsboro, home of Crossroads Music Company, who are some of my favorite people ever. Can't wait!

We'll be heading up to Davis, OK for a show tomorrow, and then it's to the Houston area for a July 4th show at Freyburg Hall, and then back up to Winnsboro, outside of Dallas for our gig on the 5th...and home to Austin. It kind of looks like this:

In fact, it looks exactly like that.
This is the finest piece of graphic illustration I have ever done.
Thank you.

Of course, a proper Merch Girl needs to wear the merchandise. Spiffy, it is.


I'll do my best to update from the road, and if you're in Davis/Freyburg/Winnsboro...come say hi!

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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

I love this song.

Stones in the Road - Mary Chapin Carpenter.

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