Susan Gibson
Gruene Hall yo.

You know, I’d almost let the title go.  I have been The Boss’s Merch Girl (Merch Female, Merch Person?  Merch Attendant?) for 2.5 years now, going on 3.  It was my first job with Team SG, and oddly my first time out on the road opened a big door for my prospects with the business.

We were in Davis, Oklahoma – my first time hitching a ride in the van, and my first official Merch Girl show instead of me just saying, “Hey I’m around I’ll help please let me help LET ME BE OF SERVICE PLEEEEEASE!”  I definitely had to have a purpose to go to Davis, OK.  (Which is a lovely town, by the way).  The show was great and I sold a METRIC CRAP TON of merchandise.  (Here is the full recap in real time from my blog archives if you want to re-live it with me and see how long my hair was – dear Lord it was long, who allowed that?). I thought, “Can it always be like this?”

Turns out it can’t.  I have had good merch days and kinda “meh.” merch days since Davis, some approaching the glory that was Oklahoma, but never ever topping that first number.

Until Sunday, February 27th, 2011.  Yes, folks, I topped Oklahoma.  What better place to do it than at The Boss’s Gruene Hall CD Release.  Fabulous.  I was on my feet the whole four hours it seemed, and folks were pleasant and fun and happy to be getting the new album.  The band was smokin’ and the weather was lovely (albeit slightly alarmingly warm for February already butthisisnottheplacetogripeabouttheweatherjpo!)  A perfect storm.

I’m looking forward to topping my new record at the CD Release shows this coming weekend…bring it.  I got yer Sharpie right here.

Um ok wow.  I am still spinning.  The benefits of Folk Alliance are many and varied.  We got to make a lot of good contacts for The Boss…DJs, venues, all that.  I saw some amazing music that inspired me.  I got to be at a professional conference in my field and go to panels about useful topics.  I got to hang out with some REALLY COOL folks.  I’ll just kind of rehash the haps in photo form and insert slightly witty things between in hopes of  keeping your attention.

We got to Memphis after a fun gig in Little Rock — it’s always good to book shows to and from conferences because conferences are expensive, even for folk musicians.  We checked in and I was aghast that the Marriott in downtown Memphis would let 2000 music business peoples run around for 4 days.

We were told a sign is handy sometimes when you’re playing a showcase so that people know who you are, so Susan made a sign out of flaming duct tape that I had purchased in Arkansas.  It was awesome.

Prepping a Folk Alliance Sign

Then we had some time to clear our minds for the impending rush of crazy. I felt kind of glazed over with trepidation at the amount of hands I was going to shake and people’s names I was going to hear. Deep breath!

Susan had her first showcase at 10 PM that night and it went well. I was in hand-out-postcards-to-everyone mode. Everyone has their name tag on and you do this weird glance thing where it’s like “Hi there!” and then you look at their stomach and try and see where they are from and what they do and – I’ll say it – what they could potentially do for you – in one glance without making it too obvious. But it’s obvious, and we all did it, so it was fine.

Beth Wood

Right next door to Susan’s showcase happened to be Beth Wood, another one of my favorites, which was a taste of the enormity of awesome at this conference. We lined it out driving back yesterday and Folk Alliance is this: Three floors of the Marriot, maybe 30 rooms to a floor. Every night from 10 PM – 3 AM there is music in each room in (mostly) half hour time slots. So every half hour in 90 rooms someone is playing. It boggles the mind. All you need to do is walk up and down the hall and you will hear goodness. And if you missed someone in one room, chances are they are upstairs playing later that night. This is all in conjunction with the main floor where we took over all the ballrooms and meeting rooms – the Official Showcases were held there. Pretty impressive.

So anyway, after Susan’s showcase we wandered the halls and found good stuff.  And now I’m kinda tired because I’m not recovered from all this so give me a minute to remember what happened on day 2, haha.  Hm.


I have a lot of hang ups, as we all do. I am an introvert and I would rather pluck my eyebrows all the way out than spend more than 15 minutes in a large gathering of people sometimes. (Please don’t let this statement stop you from inviting me to parties). I never take the top of anything in a stack…newspaper, flyer, etc. You never know where it’s been. I have been known to wait in public restrooms to let other people open the door so I don’t have to touch it. See? Hang ups.

Hmmm.

One thing I will own up to being good at, because we should all sit around sometimes and own up to what we OWN, is that I have a good working vocabulary. I pull out words that make me happy and make my friends scrunch up their noses and say, “You just said subterranean in reference to your shoes,” or something. I like using words and I like knowing them so they pop out when I need them. I didn’t get here overnight…I have messed up the context of a lot of words. A lot. I still do. Sometimes said friends will call me on it, which is fine. Usually I can call myself on it…and my favorite is when a friend chimes in with the word I DID mean to say. That means I learned, and will probably learn the correct context of the word I used incorrectly, too. It’s like adding 2 more words to the bank for the price of flubbing one!

That’s how I built it up…acquiring, mis-using, correcting…it’s messy, but it made me grow.

I was thinking this is how we should operate with a lot of things in life. Play a solo and mess it up…you’ll figure out where you went wrong or you’ll come up with something cool by accident. It’s like spewing the wrong word but using it for good. Drive the wrong road much? Sometimes I get lost in Austin…it’s not exactly a gridded town. Usually I’ll see an awesome house or even just a cute porch, and that makes the wrong turn ok.

Be fearless and throw it out there.  Don’t calculate too much, especially on the first draft.  Your brain will catch up with your desire, and when the two sync up it’s a glorious thing, rapid fire inspiration.

I won’t die or even get maimed for using the wrong word or note or turn.  This is a lovely thing.

…is how my brain is operating at the moment.  It’s Monday, February 14th.  First, let’s all say a big Huzzah because The Boss’s new album, TightRope, is officially out in the world today.

“HUZZAH!”

Thank you.  Today is the final day to get everything done, loaded, packed, mailed, packaged, printed, stapled, filed, or whatever for the week because we are going to the Folk Alliance conference in Memphis.  We leave tonight and drive to Fort Worth, then Little Rock for a gig, then Memphis.  Then we go to Baton Rouge and then Lake Charles and then home.  That’s the next 7 days.

Folk Alliance is the networking champ of conferences for musicians.  Accountants and engineers and political scientists have conferences, and so do folk musicians.  The Boss has an official showcase there (HUZZAH!) so we have 3 days on the ground to meet people, show them what she’s got (everyone will love her), and hopefully work enough to turn it into some booking opportunities.  And also spread the new record around.

Gangsta Merch

This is how I plan to advertise.  Whut?

I lie – it is not our last chance for all those things, because we plan to take a mobile post office so we can mail CD orders from wherever we are.  And I will be working on taxes while we drive.  I feel like I am allowed one sentence dripping with sarcasm in this blog post: I love working on taxes.  Ok. I’m done.  I’ll spin it into something fun, like make the spreadsheet light up and play music.

So anyway, today I have to stop in at the music school since I am ditching them for the week, and drop some TightRopes off at Waterloo Records, because this album is all about the independent record stores.  I’m probably also going to browse.  I love Waterloo.

Onward to Memphis, for one week…it is home of the Blues AND the Folk.

Dan Barrett, Rubicon guru and my folk music grad school mentor – told me something cool the other week.  He said he has practiced remembering good outcomes of things that haven’t happened yet.  Somehow this kind of…makes them happen.

I told The Boss about it and we did it for the first time in Albuquerque.  She said, “Remember how this was our best Albuquerque gig ever and there were so many people there?”  I replied, “I remember when they had to pull out extra chairs to seat everybody.”  I immediately became a believer when they had to bring in extra chairs during my set.  Whoa.

So we did it again for this weekend’s CD release shows in Austin and Dallas…both at venerable venues.  We remembered how everything went smoothly and easily and how full the rooms were.

Susan Gibson and Gabe Rhodes

Cactus Cafe – Austin

Turns out everything went really smoothly and the rooms were indeed…very full.

Susan Gibson Band

Poor David’s Pub – Dallas

Now, Dan’s point of the remembering process is not to change the space-time continuum.  He theorizes that by remembering an outcome and working backwards, you are able to do things to make that outcome happen easier.  It’s like goal planning on steroids, because you do some extra work on the outcome before you ever plan your steps.  One of Dan’s Rubicon students, a revered blogger and motivational writer named Joe Vitale, blogged about Dan’s remembering process, too.  This thing has legs.  Try it.

All I know is, I’m remembering how awesome and fun Folk Alliance was in 2011, and how I fit in a ton of blog posts over the week while we were gone.

To Memphis.