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


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Monday, February 22, 2010

Good from the Other

Um, ok. So to lighten up the mood from that last post, I gotta say...whoa.

When I was a spunky bright-eyed and bushy-tailed 23-year-old...a whole 4 years ago, I packed up and moved to Austin to see about the music business based on a few things, but one of the main ones being that both Susan Gibson and Terri Hendrix hung around the Central Texas area and used it as their home base. I figured there was good stuff in the water if those two chose to be here.

Susan Gibson + Jana + Terri Hendrix

And here we are, 2010 and the next show on the books for me is playing guitar for Susan while she gives her broken arm a rest, and she happens to be sharing the bill with Terri Hendrix and Lloyd Maines. So I'm going to stop blogging now and go practice guitar. Lucky for me, I've been playing a bunch of these Susan tunes for a while, and I picked up a big chunk of my strumming style from her.

Luck = Preparation + Opportunity.

Life is weird and wonderful.

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Uncle, 2010! Uncle!

All right, I call a re-do on this year. Let's just all start over. Whine whine, ok I'm over it.

I tend to shy away from personal blog posts. I know I know, it seems like I detail every truck stop and gig booking in excess, but that still leaves out a lot of what makes me tick, believe it or not. So I figure it's time to spill a little bit about 2010 so we can all move on and get moving on a real year.

Some of you know, some of you don't, but my Dad passed away on January 1st. It wasn't unexpected but it wasn't expected either, the timing and the occurrence. He had been sick for a while, his quality of life was not what he deserved. For this I am grateful that he is in a way better place. His family here is not mourning what happened, we are just missing him a whole lot. I feel like I'm too young to lose my Dad, but everyone's had different things happen to them in their lives and no one is too young or old for anything.

Because of this, every day this year is the first one of this new reality in my life. Not only the big deals like Dad's birthday or Father's Day, but the first February 19th without my dad. The first February 20th. My friends have been patient and understanding. I work and hang out with good people.

So there's that. And then this past weekend another big part of my life was shaken up pretty hard.

I was in Austin to see Terri Hendrix and Lloyd Maines play at the Cactus Cafe. It was an awesome show. I had a great time. I walked to my car. I noticed I had a voicemail from a minute prior. It was Susan the Boss - she had gone to La Grange (about an hour from Austin) to sing at her friend Elizabeth's gig at the Bugle Boy. I called her back, she had just wrecked the van in La Grange. She thought her arm was broken. I told her to call 911.

I drove like a responsible driver who just had to be somewhere an hour away ASAP and met her at the ER. And there were x-rays, and when your boss who plays guitar for a living ends up with x-rays like this, you start to question what is going to happen to a lot of things.

Fast forward to today, just so I don't leave you in suspense, but Susan's got 2 plates and 11 pins in her arm and wrist. She's expected to fully recover but it's going to be a few months. She's on the mend and already feeling tons better since her bones aren't moving around anymore. A lot of self-employed musicians don't have health insurance, this case included, so I got real good at fundraising really fast. People are generous and kind. They love what Susan brings to the world and so many people have stepped up, it's been incredible. I fully believe she will come out of this experience better than she could ever expect. And more metallic.

I've been overwhelmed at the kindness people have shown me, too -- they know I'm reliant on a touring Susan. That's my job, is to facilitate her touring on both the front end and the back end. When it became obvious that might halt or slow down considerably, many people offered help and support to me, too. We both have a huge community around us, and if we ever took it for granted, now I don't think we ever will.

I learned that with both of these big life events. You find out who your friends are, which is usually a bigger and more devoted circle than you think. You find out what you think you should be doing is not always really what you should be doing. I have decided that this is not the year for me to climb any ladders. I'm not up for it. I'm trying to focus on the things that matter to me. Family, friends, music, art. Words. None of that with any pressure or obligation. Just the enjoyment of their presence in my life, because it has been shown to me in stunning detail twice in the last two months that even the most important people and things in your life can go away very quickly. In the case of my Dad, it's a blessing for him and a mourning process for us. In the case of Susan, it's an intense feeling of gratefulness that she is still here.

Both are events that I know will make me embrace my own time here with more enthusiasm, less worry, more joy. So I guess 2010 hasn't been so bad after all, if that's what it teaches me.


Saturday, February 13, 2010


We found this three-necked guitar in a pawnshop in Tomball, Texas. I know that several questions just flew through your mind. I will try and answer them.

1) We were looking in pawn shops because I decided I wanted some sort of new used guitar. Sometimes I get an itch.

2) It's a 6 string electric, a 5 string bass, and a 4 string fretless bass.

3) I have no idea why.

4) It was extremely heavy.

5) $600.00

6) No, I didn't buy it.

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Time Machine: Freshman Year of College

Scene of the class: Keller Hall

This article is not one I remember reading back then, because I just showed up to class one day and didn't know what to expect. This was when I was a freshman in college and the class Susan performed in was my Music Appreciation 139 class. Thanks for my awesome current job, Professor Kostur, wherever you are...

Dixie Chicks writer finds her own space - Albuquerque Journal
November 02, 2001 Byline: Kevin Hopper FOR THE JOURNAL

"I'm Susan the-girl-who-wrote-'Wide-Open-Spaces' Gibson now. Until I do something else."

So says Susan Gibson talking about her place in the country/folk music industry and what she has to overcome now that she is on her own. The "Wide Open Spaces" she refers to is the smash hit Gibson wrote for the Dixie Chicks' 1998 debut album of the same name. The album went on to sell 11 million copies and gather many top awards, including a Grammy for Country Album Of The Year.

While her song propelled the Dixie Chicks toward country greatness and became a bona fide commercial success, the Amarillo native's own music, which until recently has largely been made with her band the Groobees, tends to stick a little closer to the ground.

"I feel really good about 'Wide Open Spaces' and its commercialness," Gibson said in a recent telephone interview. "And I feel good about the Dixie Chicks doing it, but the fact that that seems to be what you have to emulate in order to find a place (in the music industry), I don't like that."

The Groobees split up in May, and rather than take an extended and much-deserved hiatus, Gibson has hit the road and will perform a number of gigs in Albuquerque, starting tonight with a performance at Kellys Brewing. She plays Saturday at Tractor Brewing Company in Las Lunas and again in Albuquerque Sunday at Johnny's Restaurant.

In addition to that, Gibson is taking time to drop by music appreciation class at the University of New Mexico this morning.

"I'm still kind of in the midst of extricating from the Groobees, but I felt compelled, even if it was for my own good, to (continue performing)," Gibson said. "It would have been easy to find a lot of reasons to take a break. It was important for me to not quit just because the Groobees did."

Gibson is due in the studio in early March and shows a strong interest in breaking away from both the Groobees and her status of "the girl who wrote 'Wide Open Spaces.' '' The 29-year-old Gibson said she respects folk-legend-in-the-making Ani DiFranco and ideally would like to pattern her career after DiFranco's.

Gibson's resolve to form a new identity will probably come to her much easier than most other artists. She's already got a country hit and a stable of Groobee songs that display her songwriting abilities.

Unfortunately, she has to deal with an industry that molds and shapes artists as it sees fit. Gibson again alluded to DiFranco and her ability to be seemingly in total control of her own destiny.

"The number one thing that Ani DiFranco does is believe what she says and stands by her guns," Gibson stated emphatically. "I mean, that's No. 1. That's human."

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Folk Alliance

We leave on Tuesday for Folk Alliance...the alliance of Folk. A big time conference in Memphis where everybody goes to schmooze and jam. We hope to meet a lot of venues and charm them. We made postcards. We are so ready.

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Insert "Big as a whale" joke here.

Whoa. So you never know what will happen when you're traveling around for gigs. This past weekend was an enjoyable one with two days in Houston and then a day off before a Monday night show in Port Aransas. We claimed a cabin over at Seashell Village (which our friend Jim owns and where Terri and Lloyd do their songwriting workshop), and went down to the beach. We were on the sand for about 35 seconds when a guy comes up and asks if we had seen the whale. Um, no?

Apparently a whale had washed up 3 miles down, so we hopped in the car and found it. It was long dead and apparently smelly, though I plugged my nose and never smelled it. They had dragged it into a dune they had bulldozed out to bury it, but people from the university were studying it...or dissecting it...or whatever you do.

There was a fin on the sand and the ball joint was almost as big as a volleyball. I touched it. Never thought I'd touch a whale, I'm not much of a swimmer.

It was neat all around because apparently this is not a common occurrence, so the chances that we would be there on the right day and also learn about it to go see...were slim.

This has nothing to do with music, except now when someone says, "It was as big as a whale!" I'll know exactly what they are trying to say.

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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Oh yeah, guitar.

Guitar Strings

Made a decision to pursue art for art's sake and not business. Doesn't change a thing except maybe a sense of urgency about things. Makes me want to play guitar for the reason I ended up here in the first place: I really like playing guitar. Same thing for writing words on paper.

I can get caught up in facebooking and tweeting and youtubing and that's all awesome and I like it, too...but deciding to turn it all off for 2 hours today was long overdue.

Probably means I'll write a song or two here shortly, too.


Monday, February 1, 2010

Hello February

I am coming up with the lamest blog titles lately. I've been here in Austin/Wimberley a lot, so life is going as usual I suppose. This weekend was fun, with Susan playing 2 sold-out shows in the speakeasy-like atmosphere of Oma's Secret Garden, a cool venue in New Braunfels owned by my friends Tracy and Paul. They were CD Preview shows, and the first night had Gabe Rhodes playing with Suz - he's producing her new record. Very excited about all of it.

Gabe Rhodes and Susan Gibson

Also Oma's had Terri Hendrix's overalls on display. Just sitting there. I laughed. They are cool like Terri.


On Sunday we drove up to Fort Worth for the Clubhouse Concerts Benefit show...it's a neat listening room above the White Elephant Saloon, and every year this benefit show funds the series. I songswapped with Susan and Ali Holder, which was very fun. I didn't even fall off my stool, which I was nervous about, because I'm a klutz. Anyway, we hung out for a bit and then drove all the way back. I could sleep for about 3 days straight I think.

Jana, Susan, Ali

I'm bracing myself because in 2 weeks it's off to Folk Alliance in Memphis and Nashville. Bring it, Tennessee.

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