Singer Songwriter Blogger Guitarist Content Creator
OF COURSE. The inevitable end-of-year summary, and my life would be incomplete without throwing my 2 cents into the fray. I usually just do a music list, but I feel like 2014 was a weird year for media (or maybe just my consumption of it), so I’m going to highlight…whatever I feel like highlighting. Nothing is in order.
Taylor Swift – 1989 of course. I’m not just partial to TaySway because she helped me write a good blog post…she killed it this year. Her album is pop goodness, her promotion was spot on, she’s hilarious, and I think she will continue to climb. Hail the Year of Taylor. A vignette:
(SCENE: Jana meets up with Katie)
Katie: Is that a Taylor Swift shirt?
Katie: You mean you own 2 Taylor Sw-
Drew Kennedy – Drew released Sad Songs Happily Played, which is a live album he didn’t know was being recorded while he was performing. This is the coolest way to make a live album. He is such a good writer and if you don’t have it, well…get it.
The Belle Sounds – Black Stone EP. This band sounds like nothing in Austin at the moment, which…face it, can we all admit how refreshing that is? Noelle Hampton’s songs are gems.
Emily Shirley - Suffering Soul. Emily’s releasing a single at a time these days, which I love. This one captures some sort of cinematic genius where you can almost picture Quentin Tarantino getting out of a muscle car in the middle of the desert when you listen. (This is my own personal movie, take a listen and apply your own).
Sara Barreilles – her album The Blessed Unrest did not come out this year but she was nominated for album of the year at the Grammys for it and this single – I Choose You – came out this year and it’s so good.
Susan Gibson – OF COURSE. This would be a favorite even if I wasn’t in the audience. The Second Hand: Live at the Bugle Boy is the thing that captures the genius of the Gibson live show, in a great venue, FULL of great people. The perfect night on disc. If you have not heard The Second Hand or The Best of You well GO LISTEN WHILE I WAIT. I AM WAITING.
Here’s The Thing with Alec Baldwin – this show went on hiatus last year and I was sad. Now it’s back. Alec has many skills but I think radio host is one of his best ones. It makes me want to have my own show and talk to people, which is weird for me to want.
With Special Guest Lauren Lapkus – the set up of this podcast blew my mind. Every week Lauren is a new character and her guest is actually the HOST, making Lauren the special guest. As the theme song says, “She’s the host but she’s always a guest and the guest is a host so she’s not really the host, it’s With Special Guest Lauren Lapkus, with your host as somebody else.” Whoa.
Caity Weaver’s 14 Hour Search For The End of TGI Friday’s Endless Appetizers. Just…read it. Pure genius.
Yes Please – Amy Poehler: No brainer. Amy’s book is different than most other comedian tomes I’ve read and I’m good with that. She’s smart, kind, and oh yeah, funny.
The Power of No – James Altucher: James is my favorite blogger. He writes about real stuff and getting better at life, as opposed to all the self-improvement blogs that contain an air of unreachable perfection.
The Remembering Process – Daniel Barrett and Joe Vitale: This book is amazing and I’d be saying that even if Dan the Producer of Awesome hadn’t written it. Truly, get this and reframe how you think. It has done me wonders.
Through the Woods – Emily Carroll: I never thought I’d be caught up in a graphic novel of scary stories, but I found Emily Carroll one day and she sucked me in. It’s Hitchcockian in its creepiness, which is about the right kind of creepy for me.
“The Mac is most definitely…back.” That’s what Mick Fleetwood said to the Toyota Center in Houston on Monday. Really, with a history as insane as this band’s, you can argue they went away several times, or they never really did…maybe they just morphed a lot. They have definitely gone through some changes, but this line up of Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks, John McVie, Mick Fleetwood, and YES, Christine McVie…is kind of The One. Some diehards argue for the British blues band version of Fleetwood Mac but whatever. This is the one…Britain meets Southern California to make magical pop rock for forty years. Wow.
I was introduced to Fleetwood Mac in 1997 thanks to PBS (how lame does this make me?). I was 15 years old and taking guitar lessons and they were playing The Dance special on repeat every few weeks, so I happened to catch it. Then I got the CD. Then I could not stop playing all of the songs. This is probably how most Fleetwood Mac fans are made…you play their songs once and you can’t stop.
I had given up ever seeing them live because while you’re not supposed to pick favorites, Christine McVie is totally my favorite and she left the band 16 years ago right after The Dance. It wouldn’t be a true Fleetwood Mac show for me without “Everywhere” and “You Make Lovin’ Fun” and “Little Lies” and “Don’t Stop” and “Songbird.” When they announced she was back, I knew this was the year. Luckily my friend Kelly was quick on the ticket grab and got seats for me and Susan as well.
It was everything I wanted, really…they started with “The Chain” which is how you have to start. All the Christine songs, Stevie twirling for “Gypsy” and “Dreams” and an acoustic version of “Landslide”. Lindsey KILLING IT on “Second Hand News” and “BIG LOVE” (have you not seen him play guitar on Big Love? Click this) oh my goodness. “Seven Wonders” was something from Tango In the Night I hadn’t totally paid attention to lately but I loved it live. All of them sounded great. Mick Fleetwood is like 70 years old and could out do most people half his age on a marathon, I think. Christine ended the show with Songbird solo on the piano and I was ecstatic.
So there you have it. I highly recommend Ken Callait’s book Making Rumours – it gives you insight into how these folks work, and how many drugs they took, and how it’s amazing they’re all alive, really. A true American (sorta British) rock band that made it through to be legends and can still play their butts off. Props.
Pomplamoose on tour. Taylor Swift and Spotify. Grammy nominations. If you’re a music industry news junkie, you’ve read about all of this in the past couple of weeks. If you’re not, just know that a lot of people have spent a lot of internet time debating music and money and art and commerce…like always.
I wrote this folk rap last year, and I am finding out the topics I wrote about are still looming and perhaps even more in the limelight.
The first part of this song is about playing open mics in college, playing my first real paid gig in front of the check out line of the natural foods store with my friend Ben. We had to play for 4 hours while people bought organic beets. It made us hearty.
The second part launches into those questions most musicians have…how to create a community and network of fans, how to grow that community, whether the very thing we think is the product nowadays is really the product at all. Is it the job of the artist to make the populace respect and pay for art? To cultivate a culture of money in exchange for music, art, prose, whatever?
Or is it the job of the artist to adapt to the overwhelming and all-consuming tide of technology and consumerism that dictates how entertainment is delivered as quickly and as easily as possible? That means accepting that music will never really be purchased as a “thing” again, simply accessed from the cloud. How does that affect value? Does it undermine the work behind it or open up the artist to millions more potential fans? What is the next income-producing mechanism for musicians if it is not music sales or, as Pomplamoose seems to point out, large scale live shows?
I don’t have the answers. I’d like to sit on a soap box and say music is inherently valuable and should be paid for, but I stream Orange Is the New Black without wondering how the producers and actors get paid off each stream from my $8 a month, and I get sucked into internet web series that are sponsored by large corporations with the understanding that I am being sold something as I am being entertained. Does it bug me much? No. Did it bug me that Lady Gaga’s show at SXSW was sponsored by Doritos? Mildly, but I got over it because I had a good time (thanks, chip people). More people will buy nacho flavored chips this year than pay to download a song. It’s real life.
The last part of the song is about how “artists gonna art”, basically. Some will always be after the dollar. Some earn it, some think they SHOULD be earning it. Some will make and create and not ever worry about it. Each of these groups will have people who are successes and non-starters. The world will keep spinning and there will always be new art and entertainment to consume.
Is there money where there’s heart? I can see it…my answer is yes. Maybe just not how we all think it should happen.
I LOVE ELIZABETH WILLS AND I DON’T CARE WHO KNOWS IT. I mean, everyone should know it and love her too. We’re sharing a show in Fort Worth this weekend and I can’t wait. I’ll even practice.
I MEAN WATCH THIS:
I spent the holiday in Albuquerque, watching pseudo-science shows on The History Channel, eating food, and hanging out with my mom and niece. It was great and now it’s time to conquer December!
Speaking of December, there is indeed an influx of Christmas music happening. This is one of my favorite Christmas albums and no one has heard of this duo…Fisher. Check them out, it’s hauntingly good.
Well, I don’t know about “shenanigans” per se..no trouble was made nor had while I turned another year older. We did have a great time, though. Since I work with Susan Gibson and work with The Bugle Boy, I managed to finagle a Susan Gibson show AT The Bugle Boy on my birthday. It was awesome. Susan put on a great show and our friend and ama-za-zing singer-songwriter Elizabeth Wills surprised us and came down to celebrate, too. She and Susan duetted and it was perfection. Our friend Spring made…THE BEST CUPCAKES EVER. I didn’t even take a picture, I just wanted to brag about those cupcakes.
I went a little viral on the below T-Swift post. Hypebot re-posted it and it’s been shared a lot. Thanks everyone for checking out the blog and sharing. The key to a good blog post people want to share:
1) Make a list.
2) Insert celebrity name in title.
3) Add the word “factor.”
There you go. Next up, “The Jennifer Lawrence Factor.” Just kidding, maybe.
My deepest fear is that my fears are not that deep…they are just simple things.
Of course, since I spent a whole post on dinner in Vegas, I have to offer due diligence to the East Coast trip…and yes, we ate well. You’d think this has turned into a food blog. I don’t know, maybe it has. Food and traveling for music go hand in hand.
My one request tourist and culinary-wise for our NYC stay was Joanne Trattoria…owned by Joe and Cynthia Germanotta, parents of Lady Gaga. I am a fan girl, and I’m proud. Plus, I mean, I’ll eat pasta in the name of almost any musician…this is not a hard task.
Joanne was definitely a treat, though. It’s located around the corner from Lincoln Center, and we went early in the day so there wasn’t a crowd yet.
We all ordered coffee which…a lot of places I go, the coffee is an afterthought. Maybe NYC is different, maybe Italian restaurants are different, maybe Joanne just knows that coffee is pretty much the staff of life and one should not serve a bad cup…but this was amazing. It came with a crema on top, which maybe it was espresso, except it was coffee, and I am not good at this stuff, but it was heaven. THIS IS NOT A FOOD BLOG. I had two cups.
They brought us bread, and we ordered. I went with the signature dish, Joanne’s spaghetti and meatball. I mean, what else can you say about a meatball that looks like this?
Everything tasted great; the meatball had the right ratio of…meat stuff (I’m sure there were several ingredients happening here) to bread crumbs. The sauce had a little zing to it and tasted fresh. I did not have an ArtPop cocktail but maybe next time.
Yep, this is definitely not gonna turn into a foodie blog since the best I can describe is often “foooood gooood want mooooore.” But I mean, I’m totally going back to Joanne when I get a chance. Paws up.
Shout out to Aqua Thai in Philadelphia because my pineapple chicken CAME IN A PINEAPPLE Y’ALL.