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


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Friday, July 31, 2009

Recording: Day 2

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Recording: Day One

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Night Before

What does one do the night before starting to record a sophomore EP? I can't speak for anyone else, but...

- take the long way home from work and do vocal warm-ups

- stop for an iced tea...the giant kind...crushed ice.

- do a vanity search on Google just to see what's out there

- eat a tortilla with peanut butter

- sort through papers to be filed but not really actually file them

- listen to the new Imogen Heap single 16 times

- get 8 hours of sle....zzzzzzzzzzzzz.


Monday, July 27, 2009

House Concerts = Joy

Thanks to Raymond for this photo!

All right, back in town after a weekend of house concerts. Very different settings, both very cool. The first was outside under a covered patio outside of Tyler, and there was a veritable farm on donkeys around us. Dub tried to take on a donkey and then it made a donkey noise and he ran back to hide behind us. Wimp.

Dog vs. Donkey

Then in my usual fit of loading everything up, I left my backpack full of clothes in Tyler. Sigh. Better my stuff than someone else's, I suppose. They're nice enough to ship it to me. Yay. :) Lesson: HAVE A SYSTEM AND KEEP IT.

The next night was a house concert in Denton. It was a packed living room and Susan was her usual brilliant funny self, I played some, we played together at the end of the night, and it dissolved into us singing Flight of the Conchords songs. That's probably a sign the house concert is over, haha. The neat thing about those shows is that no two are ever alike because the audience can participate and the whole room gets a personality of its own.

Yesterday we drove back from Denton and had, as Susan called them, "yawn-versations" all the way. Not even a rousing game of that peg-jumping triangle thing they have on the table at Cracker Barrel could energize us. We aren't very good at that game anyway.

Dub after donkey wrangling.

(I stole these photos from Amy. Thanks, Amy and Amy's iPhone!)

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

I Can't Forget the Alamo

I got to accompany my buddy D.C. Bloom the other night at Ruta Maya as part of Webb House Concerts Songwriter night. Great fun! And as you can see, D.C.'s tunes are always guaranteed great fun. Check him out at http://www.dcbloom.com

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Email Convo with the Boss

Jpo: I got a new shirt
suSANG: that's great!!!! where'd you get that?
Jpo: i'm a professional merch girl. how do you think i got it?


Follow @supermerchgirl on Twitter.

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Monday, July 20, 2009

porterdavis rocks.

So I don't mean to rub it in or anything, that maybe I have a copy of the new porterdavis CD and it's not out until September 1st. But I mean, if I were gonna rub it in, I'd point out that it is fantastic and you should pre-order yours. So you can have one too. Look how pretty it is.

Dan wrote some great tunes and picked some great tunes..."Grass Growing Through Concrete" below is on the record. Czech it. And Eliza Gilkyson sings background vocals on a track, too. Yay! So proud. I hope Dan still produces my records when he's busy flying around being on Letterman and playing at Bonnaroo and stuff. Don't forget us little people!

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

June Videos

I finally got around to editing some things...there's probably one more in the works. Joys of having a Flip camera!

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Friday, July 10, 2009

Austin City Flippin' Limits!!!!

Ok. So I grew up on PBS and after I got into playing guitar at age 11 I grew up on Austin City Limits. One of the draws of working at PBS/KNME-TV in college was that they aired ACL, even though our station had nothing to do at all with the filming of it. Something about the mystique of that show stuck with me. Mary Chapin Carpenter has been on it quite a bit, which was my big harbinger of coolness back in the day...and of course everyone from Johnny Cash to The Dixie Chicks to Bonnie Raitt to John Prine to Alison Krauss etc. etc. has graced that stage. I own a coffee table book about ACL for crying out loud.

Some people came prepped with chairs and reading material.

So I was pretty stoked when we got the chance to see a taping yesterday for Band of Heathens. There's a process you go through to get in, and since I work 8 jobs but none of them have a precise schedule I was free to stand in the 106 degree heat outside KLRU at 4 PM to snag a couple of numbers for Katie and I. The numbers allowed us to come back that night and they let us in the studio until they ran out of room. We made it in no problem and I spent the night gaping at that famous stage.

In line! Happy!

It is pretty much exactly like it looks on TV. There's the skyline backdrop, the trees (are those fake? I always assumed), the piano on right side of the stage. During the taping they named just a few of the people who have played that piano...Ray Charles, Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino...crazy the amount of history. The ACL studio will be moving to a new location downtown soon, so I'm thrilled I got in to see this stage before it shifts locations. I'm sure the new one will be awesome, but I'm a little stuck on nostalgia with things like this.

The most amusing part of the evening was that we were to turn off our phones for the taping, and in fact have them off in the building completely. But of course I can't stop Twittering things, especially things as cool as this, so I tweeted a photo of the stage before anything started and then turned my phone off. Afterward I checked my replies and the producer of Austin City Limits had tweeted, "You are so busted." Hehheh! Of course they have a search set up for ACL stuff. Too funny. I told her when I play their show I will tweet from the stage. She said no one had done that yet, so I hope no one does until...you know...2020, when I might get my shot. Anyway, the power of social media at work: proven.

Famous skyline!

MCC with the same famous skyline! Wee!

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A bit o' recap for June

West Texas Sunset Rearview

June might be processing a little better. When I first got back to town there was much to be done to catch up with things. Red Leaf is in full swing with camp and Susan is headed toward Canada while I am gearing up to finish out her year's schedule already.

Dan said today I have lost some of the deer in the headlights look I had before we left on the tour and acquired a little more swagger and confidence, which is nice. I would agree. Before we left on the June tour, which was the first full tour 2000 miles away from a home base I had ever booked, I was FREAKED OUT. Maybe I hid it well to the outside world (maybe I didn't), but you take the thought of 3 people's livelihoods and put it all in your hands based on interacting with venue owners and ticket prices and promotion in places far from home, and it could either work well, be a disaster, or fall somewhere in between.

I think it worked well overall...we planned well, budgeted, kept track of things, and kept on point. We did have one lucrative gig pull out a week before we were to be in that town, but Susan (who has obviously been through this more than once) handled it with grace, while I just yelled at the email on the screen in the passenger seat expecting that to fix it. Calm is important. And no one died, and we got some extra downtime in Denver so it worked out.

Being the person who books and deals with venue owners and also being the tour manager who walks in the door is unique and seems to be working really well. It allows me to make connections with venues we like on a personal level and not just be a bunch of emails disconnected somewhere in cyberspace. I don't know how common it is to have the booking agent be the tour manager, but people seem surprised and pleased by it so far, myself included.

My point...and I do have one...is there are plane tickets booked for New York and a week blocked out for Nashville in the fall and I am excited. Travel and music pretty much top my list and this year has been full of both. Fortunate!

And I will still probably scream at a few more emails.

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Monday, July 6, 2009

Joys of the Song Circle

That post title sounds a little...counterculture, haha. So raise your hand if you know what a song circle is! I'll wait.

This is part of a circle. It is a full circle. You just see the semi-circle.

Time for school. The folk singer scene has this thing called a "song circle" that I've become uber familiar with since moving to Texas. I had taken part in "jams" in college, though they seem to differ a bit. Song circles are pretty acoustic and folk based.

I had the fun of hanging out in two of these circles this past week -- one after the Jpo Trio's fun gig at the Thursday Night Music Club at the Faust Hotel in New Braunfels. It was our first time there, and from the minute we drove up to the awesome old hotel I knew we were in for a good time. The folks at the TNMC (because I'm a lazy typer) were generous enough to have us play last week, and then after the festivities they turned off the PA, circled the chairs, and we all went around the circle with our guitars and played tunes. Some were covers and some were originals, but usually by the 2nd chorus we were all singing along with the words regardless.

Then on Sunday after our outdoor house concert in Fort Worth (for which, might I add, the 105 temperature of Saturday cooled down to a lovely, cloudy, high 80's for us which seemed like the ARCTIC and we loved it)...we circled yet again and had us a time.

I have grown from an absolute fear of these situations to a true love for them. The first few times you play these you're worried about impressing or picking the right tune or whatever. And it's scary to jump in with a solo on someone else's song you might be hearing for the first time.

However, I've learned there's no better place to learn and experiment than a song circle...people are generally just there to share music they love with kind folks. I've gotten a lot of chord theory practice done over campfires and song circles in the past year, some on the fly soloing training (and might I add, I am STILL so in the training stages), and as evidenced above, I even get to play drums sometimes. Badly, I'm sure...but now I really want a fancy box to hit. Guilda seems to approve, since she remained sitting next to me and didn't remove herself from the percussion next to her.

So let's review the benefits of song circles, shall we?

1. Nice people.
2. New songs heard.
3. Low pressure place to try new musical things.
4. Good times.

Try a song circle! Just follow a singer-songwriter around for a while and you'll find one.

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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Silly Photographic Side Note

I had wondered how Tift Merritt got the effect on her album cover for "Another Country"...

Until I took this in Montana. Huh.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Land Legs

All right. Back in Austin, jumping back into my other life as manager at Red Leaf School of Music. Our summer camp for kids starts next week, and I'm excited to be a part of making them into little rock stars. Take that, Jack Black.

Dub is my co-pilot.

The last leg of our tour was fun and the last bit of road home was slightly eventful...we had a 10 hour drive from Amarillo back home on Friday, and the van had gotten an oil change the day before we left. Outside of Plainview Susan got a dashboard light that told her the oil was too high...so we stopped at a Jiffy Lube and they had to let a quart and a half out. Ouch. Come on, people.

So there we are, happily back on the road, I'm trying to do some writing, and there's a big "BRRRRRAAAAAAPPPPPFFFFFTFFFFFTTTTFFFFFFT" noise under our feet...the power steering goes out...the battery not charging light comes on. Egads. Luckily we are on the outskirts of Lubbock and Susan pilots the van to Joe Jackson's Transmission. All five of their mechanics were on the case immediately and we were on the road in no time. It could have been bad, but ended up being an interesting little sidestep. We left them with a stack of CDs in thanks. Video forthcoming. Ironic how we went about 5000 miles and that happens in the last 400.

Chase and Jamie, the fan belt heroes.

I sold one koozie in Amarillo. Susan made sure I got my 10% cut.

I'll admit the first couple of days back I missed going somewhere all the time and I still do miss the constant 70 degree temperature average of the Rocky Mountain chain. But there are songs to be worked on and an EP to be made this summer. I'll probably head back out to NM and CO in August for a bit and I'll be merch girling around Texas in July. There's a lot to do...I just don't have to be on wheels when I do it.

I learned some things. I learned you can still accomplish a lot on the road if you have a bunch of discipline and take advantage of technology. I discovered I enjoy the travel and the people and I really enjoy tour managing. I like making the bottom line work out to everyone's benefit...which is the job. If the bottom line is negative there's no tour and no tour manager. I'm fortunate to be able to work with an artist like Susan who has character and is a character. Witty repartee is our forte. I feel French. Now, about booking gigs in Paris...

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