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


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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Panhandle Hauntings

Happy Belated Thanksgiving! I like it because I think it's one of the least commercialized holidays, in that you can only up-sell someone so much on a cornucopia.

Susan Gibson in Amarillo

I had a great time in Amarillo, hanging out at the Nat Ballroom for a live taping that will be part of the new Root 66 series...it is a TV show brainstormed by a collective of very talented Albuquerque filmmakers, musicians, and such. They asked Susan to film an episode, and no better place than in her hometown.

When we rolled into the venue I knew my friend Matt Jones, a great singer-songwriter also from the ABQ area code, would be there. What I didn't know is that my buddy Josh was riding along with Matt. Josh and I used to be intern together at PBS in Albuquerque...and NEITHER of us knew that our former boss at KNME, Tony, was part of the crew that day. So it was a very impromptu and fun reunion. Tony even interviewed Susan, weird collision of worlds.

Interview for Root 66
Former boss interviews current boss.

Filming at The Nat in Amarillo

How many Susans?

The show was awesome, all of the artists including Matt and Susan and Jenn Grinels and Rodney Branigan did great. Afterwards, they wanted to film some intro footage in the boiler room in the basement of the ballroom...which is a terribly old building (I mean, it has a BOILER ROOM for crying out loud), and this basement was the spookiest place I have ever been in. Apparently there are ghosts in this place as it used to be a gambling hall and a swimming pool at various times in its life, among other things. The floor was dirt and had rusted metal things laying around, there were cobwebs all over and nails poking through the ceiling from the floorboards above us. You would never catch me down there alone.

Tony and the Crew Get Ready to Film

Ssshhhh!  This place is haunted!

Luckily, we were there with about 10 people and a floodlight for the camera, so I felt pretty safe from the ghosties. Susan filmed a hysterical intro reminiscent of Scooby Doo or the like. Then we hightailed it upstairs again, to not disturb the spirits.

You never know what you'll run into with this crazy job.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

We all get fortunate sometimes.

I had a good weekend. It was busy, with non-stop events and gigs, including the 13th Annual Austin Empty Bowl Project. This is a neat charity because all year long, people make bowls and decorate them...close to 4,000 of them, actually. Then local restaurants and chefs donate their time to make soup, and then thousands of people come buy a bowl and get to try good soup, and all the proceeds go to charity. Brilliant!
Susan played at the swanky preview party this weekend, whereupon I wormed my way in and partook in the hors d'oeuvres that included ingredients like dates, endives, and eggplant. Thems fancy food words. The next morning Jim and I woke up the soup eaters with our folk and roll act on the plaza at the Mexican American Cultural Center. I had a sweet potato dumpling soup. Awesome.

Then, during my errands for the day, I FOUND A HUNDRED DOLLAR BILL ON THE SIDEWALK. I am pretty sure the best thing I have ever found previous to this day was maybe 2 bucks floating in a gas station parking lot, and it was my friend's who had just gotten out of the car. A consultation with Jim reassured me...it's cash, and I was in a big parking lot, and there's no way to track down anyone who might have been its owner. Crazy. I feel safe telling you all this because I already spent my half at Hastings. (Jim gets the other half because I can never pay him for gigs, but I found it on a gig day, so he gets paid). So anyway, look up most of the time but sometimes, LOOK DOWN.

Later that day was benefit number 2 for Susan that weekend, at the Brauntex Theater in New Braunfels. It's a great old movie theater that is being repurposed for live shows (as well as film). Good times. There are neat little jewels all over the place...stop in a small town and find one.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

27 Ain't So Bad

It's been a Heaping good time, in fact. My birthday was on Sunday, but I'll work backwards because I am still buzzing from the Imogen Heap show last night at La Zona Rosa in Austin.

I don't recall what led me to Imogen in college, but I've had her "Speak for Yourself" album for several years, and she just recently followed that up with "Ellipse"...hence she's on tour again. I saw her at La Zona Rosa in 2006, and it was a momentous show for me. That kind of technology onstage is rare in my folk world. Also she wore a pink feathery dress and had crazy hair and hopped around a lot. I was right up by the stage so I got quite the eardrum pounding. It was awesome.

So "Ellipse" is out and I love it though have not internalized it all yet because Imogen is complicated musics (while outwardly very fun and accessible...smart), and luckily Austin was a stop on the tour. This time I got there kind of late to be in the front without being one of those jerks I hate at shows who nose their way up to the front even though they just walked in...so I scouted out the highest point in the back of the venue (which was still small enough for me to see facial expressions and everything). It was a great vantage point compared to my last show, because this time I could see the whole stage, her multiple gear set-ups, the band, etc. Good choice.

She rocked it. I won't go into glowing descriptions of individual songs. She managed to get the audience involved in 3-part harmony in a round for the encore on "Just For Now." Impressive and always a crapshoot with audience participation. She explained to us that she had microphones strategically placed everywhere, like ON HER WRISTS, so she could play all her percussive doodads and not have to walk to a microphone. She played the KEYTAR. Heck yes.

Afterwards I walked all the way to my car, said goodbye to some friends, and then had a flash of groupie-dom and went back over to the front of the venue where the tour bus was parked, and where about 30-40 people were hanging out. After 10 minutes of standing, Imogen came out and I decided to get my iPhone cover signed because her music lives on my iPod...and I had no CD cover with me, haha. And someone took a dark and slightly blurry iPhone photo. The least prepared I have been for a celebrity encounter EVER.

Which makes sense because I was pretty good at that stuff in high school and college -- meeting the artists and having a photo taken and all that. And then somewhere in the past 3 years, probably after the privilege of some of my favorite artists becoming my good friends, I stopped caring about the autographs and the tour busses.

This was neat, though...a tiny unremarkable chat amongst a sea of people (she apologized for the rude girl who had cut in front of me moments before...haha), a signature, a photo with one of my Top Fives. I guess we all need to be a fangirl sometimes (or fanboy...you can be a fanboy too).

I'll value the show and the interaction, though already the signature on the iPhone case is rubbing away, and I don't think I'll shellack it on. It was there and it will be gone but I'll have the picture to remember it by, and the mp3s to blast through my stereo on the many more miles of road to come. A face to a name is always nice.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Silly me.

It finally happened, after almost a year of updating two websites, having two FTP log-ins...for a short time janapochop.com looked a lot like susangibson.com. Except without graphics. I'm kind of amazed it hadn't happened until now, what with two index.html files floating around and easily mistaken for each other.

I finally get to use this photo, though:

Luckily it was easily fixed and as popular as I wish my blog was, no one probably even noticed.

Carry on! I'm going to see Imogen Heap tonight. More on that later.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Recording Days 5 and 6

SO. MUCH. FUN. So fun!

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Two Hometowns

So Susan's got a song called "Two Hometowns" which, taken out of context, applies to our trip this past weekend. The first stop was Amarillo, her old stomping grounds, where she played at the Golden Light and I witnessed something I thought I'd never see: a partial Groobees reunion.

I first found Susan through the Groobees records because that's all that was available my freshman year of college. She hadn't quite released the solo record yet, I don't think. So I had every song memorized, and was a big fan of the band as a unit. Gary Thomason, the guitarist in the band, lives in Amarillo so he played with Susan at the Golden Light this weekend. He is amazing. He can play anything and he hops around like a 7-year-old on Pop Rocks and Dr. Pepper. It's awesome to see.

Susan Gibson and Gary Thomason

They were joined for a tune by Todd Hall, the Groobees drummer, hence the "reunion," hence my fangirl glee. If you can get yourself a used copy of any Groobees CD, do so. They sound great.

Groobees Reunion

Then it was off to my hometown of Albuquerque for the yearly house concert we deem "The JP Project," whereupon my friends from all walks of life show up and we have a reunion of our own. A lot of them know Susan by now, so as the special guest there was some familiarity but also a lot of hilarity because we do things like talk in British accents and I collect ceramic pigs and she puts change in them for my 401k plan. It was another great show and it's nice all those folks have stuck with me since moving to Texas, which...well, I'll say it...most New Mexicans hate Texas, haha. They tolerate the transplants who come back for green chile, though.

We kidnapped our friends Amy and Kate and took them along to show them the views and make them haul our gear. They are impressively accommodating! Kate also plays a mean guitar, so we made her play for her bottled water. You never know what will happen or what hitchhikers you'll pick up.

Sound check in ABQ

And now my tasks involve a lot of booking for next year and paperwork and web site work and yadda yadda. I will probably take a break on my birthday and sleep. Oh yeah, we're working on EP 2 this week, too! More on that, too....

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Monday, November 9, 2009

Spooks in Little Rock

So I've been quiet, I guess! Since Nashville it's been kind of non-stop and such. No excuse for not blogging, though. Maybe I just needed a little mini-vacation. I'm almost 27, for crying out loud...I'm old and slow, haha.

So yes, Nashville was cool and I will write more about my thoughts on that town later. We're going back in February and I'm excited.

We spent Halloween in Little Rock, playing a show and scaring people. Actually, our costumes, put together an hour before the show at a Wal-Mart near you...were awesome. Although things you snark on backfire sometimes.

At Wal-Mart:
J: "Hey Susan, wouldn't it be hysterically lame to have a fitted sheet for my Super Merch Girl costume? Hahahaha."

Later at the show:
S: "Um this sheet is fitted. Who picked out this sheet?"
J: "Oops."

Which just adds to the character of the Super Merch Girl ensemble, I say. Susan fashioned a grand logo in red and yellow and silver duct tape. Then I spray painted her glittery gold because her costume was that she went platinum in Nashville. WIN!

Super Merch Girl!

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