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


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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Last Merch Meal: Fish Tacos

Waffle House. WAFFLE HOUSE! Jackson, Mississippi.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Lessons of Merching

Now...just to be clear...working for and with Susan Gibson means 8 million belly laughs a minute, and she's such a good sport with her video camera obsessed merch girl on the road. Everything you see here is entirely fabricated, based on one small joke we've had for a couple of months back when she yelled backstage so I could hear it, "J-PO! I NEED A PEN!" We've had fun with that ever since. Evidenced below...

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Homeward Bound

Last gig is done...Charleston, South Carolina was a fine town to end the whole shebang in. Now we're driving south to Augusta, Georgia to stay the night...it's about 2 AM and we thought we'd get a head start on the 20ish hour drive home to Texas. It's been so much fun and learning and good people and music. LOTS OF MUSIC.

More on all of that later...we've got 20 hours of driving to do.

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Hello, Charleston

Ladies and gentlemen, if you are not aware, there is a GAS CRISIS. From Georgia to North Carolina to Tennessee to wherever the heck we are right now, pumps are covered in plastic bags and cars are lined up out onto the street when a gas station is actually open. It's kinda of creepy. We actually filled up in South Carolina today where diesel was cheaper than gas, and Susan paid the lowest diesel price she's paid since March. Meanwhile cars were lined up for gas at $4.09 a gallon. Weird. Luckily, I have my two souvenir piggy banks on the dash for good luck.

I am transferring Susan's Outlook files from her PC onto her Mac...more nerdiness in the van. Might as well be comfortable doing it, right?

Gig tonight in Charleston!! Might be the last one...Baton Rouge is a bit up in the air at the moment. We might be back in Texas sooner than we thought. It's still a long haul from South Carolina to Austin, though.

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Full Circle

First download

Well this was cool.  You can now download The Early Year complete with artwork in high quality mp3 format from DigStation.  I got the email that this happened when we were in our hotel room in Nashville, and Susan was the first person to download The Early Year.  What a sport!  She said it made sense because my geekery and nerdiness have rubbed off.  It's true, I like to share the geek love.  Also, don't tell her, but even though my geekness rubbed off on her, I think her awesome songwriting influence has rubbed off on me more.  

Guess what?  You too can download The Early Year from Digstation, or order it from me directly and get a hard copy with all the kickbutt artwork.  We have options here at jpo.com. 

Also, since I won't mail out the pre-orders until I'm home next week, you have a few more days to get in on the pre-order giveaway.  Jana Water stuff.  Awesome. 

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Hello, Charlotte

We're driving through Charlotte, NC.  We have seen about 42 Waffle House signs today.

This is my pen from the Country Music Hall of Fame.  Still waiting on that hit song...

I get to see my cousin at the gig tonight!  She moved to North Carolina this summer, and I thought it would be a while before I got to visit...surprise!

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The Early Year and Eddie's Attic

Susan gets ready at Eddie's

We’re on our way to Winston-Salem, NC after a great time back in Atlanta. Susan played at Eddie’s Attic and my good friends Keith and Suzanne came to the show and then put us up in their home with fluffy beds and cute dogs and cats. Then Keith made CHEESE GRITS for breakfast and I think I might officially be a grits fan. So good!

The Early Year

Keith and Suzanne also acted as couriers for me because I had 50 copies of The Early Year delivered to their house so I could see the thing as soon as possible. We popped open the box in the Eddie’s Attic parking lot...very cool. It turned out great. Video forthcoming, of course, haha.

The other surprise of the night was a box of roses delivered to Eddie’s for ME...which confounded me as I was opening them. Shockingly, I am not known for having secret admirers, even with my charming camera presence. They were from my Merch Girl Groupies back in Texas, Teri and Sandy. They are great Susan supporters and always take good care of the Merch Girl...and when I told them we were going to Eddie’s Attic, they were very excited because Decatur is their old stomping ground and where they had their first date. (Front row table on the right of the stage!) So um...getting roses at Eddie’s Attic right after opening a box of my EP was pretty stellar.

And the show was great and Martha Scanlan played too and she was great...and then the fluffy bed, and now we’re back in the car to North Carolina. Phew.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Seeing the Sights

The morning started off at Pancake Pantry, one of those famous places where everyone who is everyone goes, apparently. I had the Carribean Pancakes. Tasty!


We did some wandering, but found a lot of closed doors in Nashville. No, we weren't looking for record deals...but we found out that things close at 5 PM and that's pretty much lame. The Country Music Hall of Fame was closing when we got there. And the Ryman was closed when we got there. We did get in to some gift shops, though. Susan and I both picked out pens at the Country Music Hall of Fame, which will inevitably allow us to write our first multi-million selling hit songs. Oh, wait. It will allow ME to write my first. Hehheh.

On Music Row

We stopped by Bug Music on Music Row so Susan could drop off some records - they administrate her publishing. Interesting how Music Row is a non-descript little street with brick houses and such, and all the deals that affect a lot of music in this country are made here.

We stopped at the legendary Tootsie's Orchid Lounge, where all the Opry stars used to hang out...

Tootsie's Orchid Lounge

And Cotten Music and Gruhn Guitars, where I will one day drop a pretty penny when I get a pretty penny to drop...

Gruhn Guitars in Nashville

Tonight we lucked out and saw an AWESOME show at 3rd and Lindsley - Catie Curtis was in town. She's a Boston folkie and I have never gotten to see her play before. Great show!

Catie Curtis in Nashville

Tomorrow it's off to Decatur and Susan's Eddie's Attic show! Another legendary venue...the good life indeed.

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Nashville Writer's Night

Last night we went out to a writer's night at The Camel a little outside of Nashville. Susan played a great set and then I got to get up there with Suz and Marian and we showed them how girls rock out back in Texas. Susan did a great job filming AND sang killer harmonies. She's a Jill of all trades.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Recording in Nashville

Suz Guitar

So we booked some time and recorded today. Well, we booked our hotel room...and made it a studio.

Susan has some new tunes that she wants demo'd, so we spent a good chunk of today messing with mics and cables and figuring out the best acoustics. Of course, in the bathroom.

Tonight Susan and I are both going to play at a writer's night, thanks to Susan's very cool and fun publicist, Brandy. WRITER'S NIGHT. NASHVILLE. Heck yeah. Can't make this stuff up.

Recording in Nashville

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Susan on the Billy Block Show

Susan Gibson on the Billy Block Show

Nashville, TN 9/23/08

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12:30 AM: Outside the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville

Duking it out at the Ryman Auditorium

The Mother Church of Country Music...

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Paper Rock Scissors Fiddle!

Here's a tune from Lawrenceville, GA. The house concert had to be moved to the porch because so many people wanted to come because Susan is THAT COOL. One of the fun parts of this trip is that Suz is not afraid to grab the camera and let the merch girl play some...it gets me extra saltines in the van, too.

Marian Brackney, Susan's fiddle and violin virtuoso, is nice enough to play along with my songs and make me sound 40 times cooler.

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Keeping the Merch Girl Alive

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Viva Nashvegas!

We left the gig last night and got a little ways down the road to Morristown, TN. It was kind of late. We started late because somehow we had it in our heads that Johnson City was on Central time again, so we thought we had time to kill at the venue. In fact, it was Eastern time, so we started a little late. Oops. But it was all good. We DO know that Nashville is on Central time.

We're on the road to Nashville now. We stopped for lunch in Knoxville and wandered around their Market Square district. Very cool old buildings.

We grabbed a brochure at the hotel last night. Conversation in the car:

Jana: Hey Suz look at this! Dolly Parton! RIVER BATTLE!
Susan: No.
Jana: But, it's Dolly.
Susan: No.
Jana: And then there's...a river battle. It's new.
Susan: No.
Jana: I'll work up a version of "9 to 5" for the next gig?
Susan: ...No.

Oh well. River Battle with Dolly Parton another day.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008


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Hello Johnson City, TN

At the Acoustic Coffeehouse in Johnson City about a minute ago...

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From South to North

Greetings from outside of Asheville, North Carolina.  We left Lawrenceville about 2 PM and Suz plays in Johnson City, TN tonight.  The kudzu vines are amazing and I feel like I might get covered myself if I stand outside for more than a few minutes.  There are lots of mountains in South Carolina and North...it's chilly today and we're all wearing our hoodies and driving with windows down.  The dogs are sleeping on the couch after a rest break in Greenville.  

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Oh Atlanta...


Great house concert in Lawrenceville, GA tonight right outside of Atlanta. We left Birmingham at a leisurely pace, discovering that :

a) It's hard to find a mailbox to mail stuff in. The blue official kind.
b) Bugs were all over the front of the van.
c) Boiled peanuts are sold in cans around here.


As we went through Alabama it was kind of freaky to see evidence of a fuel shortage.  Entire gas stations were closed or there would be one pump open with a huge line of cars.  There didn't seem to be as much of a problem with diesel, which is good for Susan.  Cuz...we have gigs to be at.


Thank goodness we have a plastic Jesus, a cute turtle, a gig potato, and a can of boiled peanuts on the dash for good luck.


More tomorrow...it is so ridiculously late you don't wanna know...

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Saga of Waiting

At an unidentified chain store somewhere in Fort Worth last Wednesday...

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To Lawrenceville, Georgia today...

The road split between Birmingham and Montgomery...and there was a bug splatter on the windshield.
 I wanted a photo of the sign but I was a little slow

Traveling in style.

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Songswap in Birmingham!

Susan is songswapping with Beth Wood tonight in Birmingham...here's a shot of Suz being an attentive listener.  Beth is awesome.

Birmingham is beautiful!  So much history here.  But we gotta get up and drive to Lawrenceville, GA tomorrow...

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Stars Fall on Alabama

Welcome to Alabama

Almost to Tuscaloosa, AL and close to Birmingham! Small Stages tonight...ready to rock the merch. A few more hours in the car. There are lots of trees and mist. That is all.

Also, Oasis called this morning and The Early Year is done and being shipped out TODAY. I will intercept a box next weekend in Atlanta, thanks to some friends of mine there willing to receive mail. Yay!

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Hello Mississippi

Laptopping in Louisiana

We just crossed over the Mighty Mississippi River...we're in Vicksburg and again, THANKS TO THE POWER OF THE SHOTGUN SEAT INTERNET, we reserved a room in Jackson for the night. The Boss took this photo of the Merch Girl hard at work on two laptops. Yes, we had a situation that required a PC and Mac. They got along well.

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We are...

Photo 178

On the road! Somewhere on I-20 going into Louisiana...

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Onward...to Birmingham

I made it on the train to Fort Worth yesterday, only an hour late...because sometimes trains have to stop and wait for other trains. I saw lots of coal fly past me in railroad cars, for sure.

We were originally going to Baton Rouge tonight, but that one got canceled because of hurricane
Ike clean up still in progress, so we will be there on the way back instead. Our first stop then is Birmingham, AL...very excited. We're repacking our stuff (yes, I have been here a day and need to sort again) and will take off this afternoon and drive as far as we care to. Suz got a wireless network USB thing so theoretically, I can be online in the van. This is a miracle.

So um...check out Susan's tour page and come to a show. Yo!

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

T-Minus One Day

I'm sort of packing, a little. I historically wait until the night before to pack whether I am going to be gone for a month or a day, and then I sleep very little because I am frantically packing, and then I am usually so jazzed to be traveling that the lack of sleep doesn't matter the next day. I predict this will happen tomorrow.

I am also trying to make sure I have every cord possible that I will need to document this tour, from AC adapters to USB cables to Firewire cables to battery chargers for the video cameras, hard drive, still camera, iPod, computer, and whatever else needs charging or plugging in. Technology makes things easier, right? Maybe not. Maybe it just makes things cooler.

We'll be in Nashville in about a week, and appropriately my Onion horoscope is:

"You'll soon have a hit country music song on your hands, no matter how many times you try to scrub it off."


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Saturday, September 13, 2008

T-shirt Plethora

Lessons learned this weekend:

- Just because the weather people say there's a hurricane coming, and winds, and rain, and the city shuts down and cancels a bunch of stuff, and you huddle up with lots of Diet Coke...does not mean that you will get any hurricane weather or even wind. Or rain, for that matter. Nothing 'round here, folks. That's ok.

- Inking t-shirts with Sharpie takes a LONG time. Katie and I watched lots of hurricane coverage and 1.5 movies while I inked 3 shirts.

- Sharpie does remarkably well if you take your time.

- I am no calligraphy expert.

The results:
We're lucky.

It's true.

My favorite.

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Loveliness from Mary Chapin

I love this tune!

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Friday, September 12, 2008

Hurricane Party

Well, something's blowing in from the south:

In the spirit of Mary Chapin Carpenter's line from "Down at the Twist and Shout" -- "they have a hurricane party every time it blows" -- my buddy Katie and I are going to hunker down with some hummus, Diet Coke, and blank t-shirts and Sharpies. See, I decided that being on tour as a Merch Girl for 2.5 weeks...well, no one wants me to wear the same Susan t-shirt every night. No one wants that...probably especially Susan because she sits in the van with me.

So Katie and I have been coming up with clever things worthy of a t-shirt. I'll share what we come up with later, but one of Katie's suggestions was "Merch Girls Do It On the Bar." Oh my.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Weather Report

Um, I've never been in the path of a hurricane before. My neighbor asked if beer and bacon were proper things to stock up on. I figure since Austin is just supposed to get a lot of rain, that's suitable. Good vibes to everyone who's going to get the brunt of Hurricane Ike...


Monday, September 8, 2008

Studies and Preparation

I've been a little quiet lately because:

a) I got a cold. No one wants to hear the extent of that whining.
b) I am getting ready for THIS:

I'll be catching a train to Fort Worth next week to meet up with the Susan Gibson tour van so I can merch girl my little heart out across the Southeastern U.S. So excited! I've never been to that part of the country before, aside from a weekend in Atlanta in college, so I will be soaking in every bit of Southern culture I can. Plus my buddy from Georgia tells me I have to try the phenomenon that is boiled peanuts from a roadside stand. I like peanuts. I like boiled things. What's not to try?

In the meantime I'm having fun at Red Leaf and with Folk Music Grad School. Dan gave me homework...my first reaction paper since college. He said he hoped I didn't mind and I said, "Dude, my degree was built on reaction papers to chapters in random books...it's cool." I enjoyed using proper citation of sources in my writing again (Dan didn't require that, of course, I just threw it in for good measure).

We are reading "An Actor Prepares" by Constantin Stanislavski...I'm only on chapter 2 but so far it's discussing the ways in which an actor presents material to the audience, how he approaches his role, and how he turns what he does into real art instead of just mechanical motions. All of it applies to the performing songwriter, too...we have to re-live the little one-act plays of all our songs over and over again and truly live them every time. Otherwise, the audience gets gypped. And perhaps throws tomatoes.

Which ties in nicely to my work with my stage performance teacher, Jess, who had me on a yoga mat inhaling and exhaling while singing with my knees pointing one way and my head the other. My assignment this week is to study two of my songs and play them for her with every emotion and intention examined and displayed. Very excited.

...And then comes the suSANG tour, which is kind of like the Folk Music Grad School Field Experience course. Or something. Many cans of Starbucks will be consumed.

I have no time for a cold! Time for some Nyquil.

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Saturday, September 6, 2008

Another Teaser

Man I love these Animoto slideshows. Anyway...New Mexico Boy!

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

A Music-ful Day


I have that happy tired feeling when you know you did your job well but it took a bunch out of you. I spent a lot of the morning rehearsing a new tune because it's a co-write (my first "real" one, I think) and I know the parts I wrote really well, and am having to internalize the other lines a little more. Fascinating.

Cheat sheet.

I also have a wild hair on a new chord and picking pattern, and today brought some workable words...so there's something new in a holding pattern. I spent a chunk of the afternoon trying to flag it in. We're still circling the airport on that one, but I like where it's headed. Who knows.

Then I had a voice lesson. We sang "hee hee hee" over and over again and I learned about where your "hee's" should come from. Not your throat. Stop that.

Then there was the gig, which was very fun. And since Year 2 of Folk Music Grad School is shifting into focusing on "outer" stuff...like performing...Red Leaf's new Stage Performance teacher came to see my gig. She took notes. That was a little nerve-wrecking, but she's way cool and we meet tomorrow to go over her notes. It's perhaps best we are meeting right before my next gig so I can apply her thoughts to the show. (Her name is Jess Klein and she is awesome and you should totally check out her music, and I hope she does not mind me blogging about her because I just did!)

I don't know if part of the outer training will be how to haul a PA around without breaking a sweat, but I could use that class, too. Yay summers in Austin! I'm so ready for fall. And thus ends my random day.

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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Labor Day Weekend

Spent the weekend on the road again (now it's stuck in your head! Haha!) with Susan selling t-shirts and CDs to the fine folks in Wimberley, Marble Falls, and Fredericksburg. I realized that on the San Angelo trip I took a lot of random photos of odd stuff, so this photo essay will focus on...the music. Plus Suz was kind enough to let me play some tunes this weekend. Her only requirement is that I play "Paper Rock Scissors." I can handle that kind of employer demand.

Susan's tie dye fit well in the artsy town of Wimberley at the Cypress Creek Club.

This is me trying to be cool.

Marble Falls was next - a show at the gorgeous Uptown Theater.

Susan played great...and then the UFOs started to hover. Doo doo doo.

Wrapped up the weekend in Fredericksburg at the Auslander.
Here's a shot of the crowd behind Susan and Michael.

Susan let me borrow her band. I get the coolest band members lately!
Then she took over photographer duty so I could blog about it. Classy.

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