Singer Songwriter Blogger Guitarist Content Creator
That’s big on the gig front. In other news…there’s a Kickstarter coming and EP 3 has studio dates in October at Rubicon. So excited…more news on that when I figure it out.
Life’s been busy being lived! I had a fun time in Arkansas and Oklahoma with Susan last week…we had one day where we woke up in Fort Smith, AR…drove to Okmulgee, OK for a private shindig, kept driving for a show that night outside Oklahoma City…she played the show, and we got in the van and drove to Fort Worth to sleep. That was a long day, but enormously productive. Also informative, as I learned there is an all-you-can-eat buffet in Oklahoma called “Chair Crushers.” I can’t make this stuff up. We did not go in.
One of the highlights was jamming at a music school in Texarkana with Lily, our dear buddy Tiffany Shea‘s daughter…Lily is clearly going to be a rock star. I hope she hires me to play keys in her band. Tiny, tiny keys.
Susan did a great set of tunes on Good Morning Arkansas in Little Rock…here are the anchors figuring out what to say for “Kick Back Friday.”
Amy Garland had us on her show, KABF Backroads, in Little Rock before our show at Hibernia Tavern that night. She is a gem.
And to top it all off, Susan and Elizabeth filled the room at Live Oak Music Hall in Fort Worth last week and it was magical. Magical like a unicorn.
I just scheduled some studio time for October at Rubicon with Daniel Barrett. That means there’s gonna be a new EP! Finally! Here’s one of the contenders for inclusion…thanks to Bob for capturing this song in the wilds of Pearland. Right now it’s called “Where Is The Heart?”
I almost feel the same way about Record Store Day as I do about Valentine’s Day…why do we need a special day to do something we should do all year round? But I get it, it’s important to mark the institutions and we as a society certainly love calendar excuses to shop.
I read some statistic that physical album sales have dropped 75% since 2001 (or somewhere along those lines). That’s huge. That’s why Best Buy is full of washing machines and not CDs any more. I’ll admit, too – I buy most of my music from iTunes. I usually hear about new things when I’m in the car or reading something online, and it’s easiest to satisfy the “I want it now” urge and press “Buy.”
At the same time, some moments forever seared in my memory happened in record stores. In Albuquerque, I grew up down the street from Hastings, where I would browse for hours and flip through the used stacks in hopes of finding something I hadn’t heard. Media Play was my favorite place to go in middle school…I met the guy that played Donatello in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles there. Like the guy that did the martial arts IN the turtle suit. Hardcore. Media Play is long gone but Hastings is still there, and while it’s a bit more overcome with knickknacks and flatscreen TVs, there’s still music to be had.
The first album I ever bought by choice was Mary Chapin Carpenter’s “Come On Come On” because I wanted to learn “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her” at my guitar lesson. It was from Target…on cassette. I’m positive my mom bought it for me, but I remember the day.
Getting MCC albums on the day of release has sent me on quite a few shopping expeditions over the years, a memorable one being me forcing my saint of a college roommate, Beth, to drive me to 2 (maybe 3) stores in Albuquerque to get “Between Here and Gone” the day it came out. Why the first couple didn’t have it, I don’t know. I’m sure Beth was more afraid of returning home with a despondent roommate than wasting gas, so she dutifully drove me to Borders where we found it. (Hey, RIP Borders!)
Luckily, Austin has one of the most successful independent record stores in the country – Waterloo Records. They’ve been there since the 70′s and have managed to live through this giant shift in buying habits. They have added some knick-knacky things but this place is still obviously primarily a record store. Part of their longevity has to do with the community experience there…I have seen so many great in-store shows there, and met some pretty great folks there. Patty Griffin, Mindy Smith, Justin Townes Earle, and Shawn Colvin to drop names of amazing songwriters.
If there is a new release I need on disc I get really excited to go to Waterloo on release day, which lately just boils down to people in my Top 5 list…whose catalogs I already have collected on CD. The OCD in me needs to keep things consistent.
I’m not worried about the health of the music industry…people will always want music in their lives. We know the methods of purchase or the mediums we purchase on are changing. Live shows have replaced disc sales in the income ranks for many artists. Instead of griping about it, the successful ones dig in and work with it.
In the meantime, take a moment to browse through the racks if you have a great music store in your town, even if it’s not Record Store Day.
Here’s us with a KT Tunstall song…re-recorded for acoustical purposes!
Emily Shirley is great.
Katie Lessley is great.
Click their links!
Here’s a link to an article called “Writing advice from writers handwritten on writers’ hands.“ This title makes my head split open, but the premise is cool. I decided to do my own.
I’m not sure if it was because I grew up a semi-only child (I was the only one at home because my older siblings were out of the house) or my introversion or what, but I can imagine alternate scenarios to my reality all day long. Driving is one of my favorite things because it allows for daydream mode to take full effect (while paying attention to the road, of course). Most of the time I subsist on daydreams of performing on David Letterman, but letting your mind wander is a great way to tap into new ideas, connections (which form more new ideas), and goals. If you’re daydreaming about it, you probably want it, and I’ve had former daydreams come true enough to know it’s a good practice to keep. Go forth and daydream, kids.
Ah, a delayed Ask Jana…but a hopefully still informative one. Thanks for all your questions!
Erin: Greatest kid cereal – Capt. Crunch’s Crunch Berries or Cookie Crisp?
Cookie Crisp all the way because when you’re a kid, the illusion of getting away with eating cookies for breakfast is a real bonus, also the milk tastes delicious. In the Cap’n Crunch line I am a fan of the “bloody mouth” peanut butter variety. You know it hurts, but it tastes good anyway.
Rush Center, Kansas is where I spent many happy times as a kid, but I have never been there for St. Patrick’s Day, and I have never seen my Uncle Dave in a kilt. So this was a winning proposition right here.
Deb: Will you look at art in a Museum or gallery setting differently from now on, as a result of viewing an exhibition with a practicing visual artist? Do you think it makes a difference in art appreciation to experience a living visual artist speak about someone Else’s art?
YES, Deb. To fill you all in, Deborah Burge is an amazing artist in California, and when Susan and Elizabeth played in Huntington Beach at the art center, there was an art exhibition happening and I walked through some of it with Deborah. I was like walking through Giza with an Egyptologist or something, because Deb pointed out things I would just glance at and wander on by. She made notes on perspective and technique and form and shape, and after 15 minutes I felt smarter. If only a smart artist was provided ever time I went to a museum or a gallery.
John: If you could take a vacation to anywhere, where would it be?
I have never been to Europe, which is sad, and I really want to see Paris. I want to see all of it (London, Prague, Rome, Athens, insert major old city here), but for some reason Paris holds a mystique for me. Maybe because lots of artists and writers I love have done great things there.
Chad: Georgia O’Keeffe paintings…once you see it, can you ever unsee it?
I love O’Keeffe, though I gravitate toward her New Mexican landscapes rather than her flowers…but I do enjoy it all. She was a smart woman; I bet whatever you see she never wants you to unsee.
Callie: Why do stamps not have how much they are worth printed on them anymore? I have one stamp in the desk and one letter to mail, but I don’t know how much this stupid stamp is worth.
I have had the very same problem, Callie, which means I just end up using the unmarked stamp as adornment on the letter and stick another stamp on, which is probably how the post office has any prayer of staying open…making us overpay for mailing by anywhere from $0.03 to $0.50 at a time…which is a horrible business model…which is why we won’t get mail on Saturdays anymore. Thanks, USPS.
Thomas: Why is there no B# or E#?
Ah, but isn’t B# just C? Which is really just Cb? Whoa.
Tiffany: ambition vs. contentment. go.
Love this question…something I struggle with daily. I don’t necessarily think the two are opposites, and in fact I think ambition is best practicing with a sense of contentment, and that likewise contentment is best when coupled with ambition. Ambition without some degree of contentment can bleed easily into desperation, which hasn’t ever really worked out for me. Contentment avoids falling into ignorant stagnancy with paired with a little ambition. The balance sounds quite magical. I make it sound easy but as we know…it’s hard.
Justin: What is the most comfortable shoe you have ever worn?
Great question. I have a pair of red Adidas Samba shoes that I love and that have never hurt my pinky toes. They are a winning pair. As a general rule, I don’t like things on top of my feet, which means I have bought so many pairs of flip flops while traveling, thinking I could get through one trip with normal shoes. Latest pair: California. Comfy.
Carol: Why hasn’t Stephen Spielberg ever won an Oscar for directing? Are people so embittered by obvious talent that they don’t want to give it a “reward”?
I never even realized he hadn’t! That’s like Hitchcock only getting an Achievement Award at the Oscars, walking up and saying a terse “thank you” and walking off stage. Who knows, but all I can say is thank goodness Spielberg and Hitchcock kept making movies without industry recognition. A good lesson.
Dave: What is the significance of the sea in “Moby Dick?”
Is it a betrayal of the American education system to admit that I haven’t read that one? I have heard it is an allegory, so perhaps the sea represents either heaven, hell, purgatory, or chocolate cake.
Stephanie: What is the significance of, “They can kill me, but they can’t harm me”?
I am curious to know the context of this quote, because the only thing that popped into my head was the Kelly Clarkson song, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” which is not that at all.
Jimmie Bell: Why does my cat think my lap is a bath house?
Cats think everything is bath house, a napping spot, and a scratching post. If we could weaponize cats, they’d have the world conquered in days due to their manifest destiny complex.
Kelly: What are the chances that next year the Oscars will be hosted by your girls, Tina and Amy?
When I rule the world, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler will host the following: The Oscars, The Grammys, The Golden Globes, The Emmys, The Kennedy Center Honors, the Junos (for the Canadians), the G8 Summit, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the United States Commission on Civil Rights, and the Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony.
JoshMac: after you’re president, what’s your first executive order?
Following the theme, my first executive order would be to make Amy and Tina official ambassadors to all nations with names beginning with the letters C – W. They’ll be busy but it will be funny. Kristen Wiig gets the rest.
John: How come disgruntled is word but gruntled isn’t?
For the same reason that I can be “inept” but not “ept” at anything, and being ept at everything is my greatest wish.
Oh yeah, it’s a music festival too! To be honest, I had such a great time attending the conference part of SXSW that the live shows were lower on my list this year. Going to the panels was an 8 – 6 job, and commuting from San Marcos added some extra time this year. It was all awesome, but I tried to be cognizant of my energy levels. A lot of awesome shows at SXSW happen at midnight. I did not go to those. I am utterly satisfied with what I did see, though. Here you go:
Since Chad was in town from Washington, D.C., we of course had to take in a couple of the best singer-songwriters in town (I’m biased but I’m right). Elizabeth Wills played at NeWorlDeli and it was the perfect way to wind down after the first day’s panels.
(Note: Pretty sure Prince doesn’t walk the streets anywhere, but for sure not at SXSW because everyone would recognize him because I bet he always wears purple).
While the major draw of SXSW (to me, anyway) is communing with a bunch of people who are motivated and innovative, there is the starstruck factor with some of the speakers sometimes (most of them are themselves motivating and innovative, so it works). Some of the highlights this year:
Tina Roth Eisenberg delivered my favorite keynote. I will shamefully admit I had no idea who was before she walked up to the stage, but she quickly caught me up and my jaw dropped. She runs a well known design blog called SwissMiss, which is enough for some people. Due to her rule of not ignoring side projects, however, she has grown a national meet up group called CreativeMornings, a studio workspace co-op called StudioMates, a temporary tattoo company called Tattly (classy tattoos drawn by designers!), and a productivity app called TeuxDeux. Yeah, so that’s what she does when she wakes up in the morning. It was an amazingly inspiring talk as she seemed was grounded and optimistic and happy with life. That’s the goal! Watch her talk here.
Chuck Lorreand Neil Gaiman had a chat about Lorre’s career as a producer and brain behind shows like Grace Under Fire, Cybill, Dharma & Greg, Two and a Half Men, and The Big Bang Theory. He’s pretty prolific, and even Ashton Kutcher was in the crowd to verify that Lorre works all the time. This is a horrible photo but they were indeed both wearing black on a black background. So Cash of them.
Lastly, as a total random surprise, I got to let my inner Gleek shine. It’s not something I talk about a lot, but since I have already confessed my love of pop music, it really isn’t that much of a surprise that I love a weekly comedy/drama centered around high school kids (who are really all way out of high school in real life but whatever) who sing awesome covers of pop songs to avoid having to speak their true feelings? No, it should not surprise you.
The Roku Lounge (where they invite you to come in and “lounge” to escape the craziness of nerd panels and then also try to sell you a Roku TV box) tweeted that Kevin McHale (Artie) and Melissa Benoist (Marley) would be answering questions in the lounge on Sunday. I kind of suspected they would be “live via satellite” like Mariah Carey does whenever she has to be anywhere, but no…there they were, in all their Glee Glory. They chatted and answered questions (so when they’re not filming they go do the Glee live show and tour the country…awesome) and then signed things for all of us. It was enough to make me want to bust out into a Rihanna/Ke$ha mashup.