This past weekend was what has become one of my favorite gigs…Muttfest in Amarillo. It’s a big giant benefit for the Amarillo ASPCA and it’s in a big park where everyone can bring their dogs. There are maybe more dogs than people at this thing. Everyone can enter contests, catch frisbees, and sniff each other (the dogs only, please). Guild won First Prize in the Wagginest Tail Contest. She was ecstatic.

Guilda and her Medal

After a long day with Muttfest we remembered it was Solar Eclipse night and drove really fast to Cadillac Ranch outside Amarillo. It was the perfect scene for the event, and I even wedged myself into a caddy.

Cadillac Ranch!  Jana and Suz
 

Eclipse

DO NOT LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN!

We capped off the weekend with a drive home from the Panhandle with this sunset…yes!

Texas Sunset

Sometimes the only thing needed for a blog post is a big photo of a slice of green chile pizza.

Green Chile Pizza

This is from Dion’s Pizza in Lubbock, which is an Albuquerque pizza chain. They have branched out to Lubbock and my friends are nice enough to eat there with me when we pass through sometimes. Green chile is good on anything, but on pizza it is transcendent.

I am, as my roommates will readily testify…addicted to things with strings. I will happily pluck around on a mandolin, banjo, dulcimer, ukulele, whatever…without actually knowing much about it. (It is on my goal list to acquire a good working knowledge of at least two of these sooner than later).

My first and only true love, however, is guitar. And I have a great one…I bought a Martin OM-15 when I graduated from high school and it has been my brilliant-sounding steadfast companion ever since. I had a Taylor for a while but sold it last year and bought an Art and Lutherie parlor guitar, which I keep out by my desk and use as a writing guitar.

I don’t usually need much of a reason to blow some cash on an instrument, though no acoustics have called me name lately because my Martin is, as I said, THE BEST GUITAR EVER FOR ME. However, traveling is hard on instruments and I do a lot of it.

Voyage Air Guitar

Enter Voyage Air Guitars, who officially endorse Susan as one of their artists. She’s had a Voyage Air for a couple of years now and it’s a really great instrument, and it folds up so you can take in on board a plane and not have to check it. Yep, a folding guitar…and this guitar snob is cool with it. I reject lots of things in guitars, but there’s not a thing wrong with how Voyage Air rolls. I got a VAOM-04 model…a smaller bodied guitar like my Martin.

Voyage Air Guitar

Voyage Air Guitar

I’ve had it for 12 hours now…I was staring out the window for the FedEx truck to come all morning. So far so good. I even folded it up and popped it back open and it was pretty much still in tune. Very cool.

It gets road-tested on May 30th when I fly to Seattle. Watch out, TSA! I’ve got music and it’s coming with me.

If you had to eat any kind of pancake for the rest of your life, what kind would it be? – Mary
Man. I like pancakes. Am I ONLY eating pancakes, or do I just have to stick with one kind when I do eat them? Regardless, since this is hypothetical and I can be as indulgent as I want, I’d do a pumpkin chocolate chip pancake. Yes I would.

Time management as an artist. Making time to write, etc. – Jackie
When you find out, let me know. Just kidding. No magic answer except diligence and devotion to a schedule and a routine. Every time I read an interview with a successful author they say they treat writing like a job and do it every day at the same time…it’s their job so they attend to it as such. I’m not as disciplined though I want to be. The Daily Practice that I blogged about below is actually helping me out with this…I get to check things off and feel accomplished. Same applies for voice exercises and guitar and whatever you want to do…do it every day and you’ll get better. It’s a simple answer but it’s probably correct!

Who are some musicians who you can barely stand to listen to, but whose work was a major influence on you or your influences? – Richard
Great question. I will step right out into the folk singer fire and say I don’t listen to a ton of Bob Dylan or Joni Mitchell but I know I am majorly influenced by them and who they influenced. I don’t even really dislike their stuff, I just tend to gravitate toward stuff that is a bit more contemporary. Also, multiple people have told me I sound like Edie Brickell and I have never listened to her except that one song that gets stuck in your hear when it’s on the radio. Gah!

Do your artists have ‘menu restrictions’ on the road? – Denisa

The folks I work with are pretty easy-going, although when there is a chance to request things I think they’d all ask for at least something a bit healthy because road life can get to be…well, fattening.

Why is it so hard to find a way to do things the easy way? – Sherry

A cruel fact, although I think the harder you work at it, it gets easier to determine the easy way on most things. A culmination of experience and training your brain. This is what all the self-help blogs I read tell me, anyway.

How many FB friends do you have purely because of a shared love of one certain singer? – Kris
Kris is referring to Mary Chapin Carpenter because I have been a member of various online MCC fan communities since the dawn of the internet. Well, the dawn of the internet for me, which was Prodigy and then AOL message boards and then an email list. Pre-social media, y’all! Anyway…I’ve collected quite a few awesome friends based solely on our taste in music from around the globe (Kris included), and over the years I have been able to take advantage of them in several ways like getting great seats at MCC concerts and staying at their homes when traveling. A few have even put Susan and myself up on tour. This is a great and friendly bunch, for sure. So there you have it, being a Mary Chapin fan has saved me several hotel bills. Perks, y’all.

If you could only listen to one album/CD for the rest of your life, what would it be? – Angela
If I couldn’t make a 10 CD box set mix tape, then I guess I’d go with Stones In the Road by the aforementioned Ms. Carpenter. It holds up.

Dashboard


How do you locate your traveling icons? – Deborah

Deborah is referring to the dashboard collection in the Sprinter that Susan and I have amassed. Basically, there’s no real strategy…you just know. We aren’t adding to it as frequently as before, because there is only so much space, although we have started collected buttons to stick in the ceiling of the van and there is a LOT of ceiling space to fill. Some of my favorite dashboard items include Jesus holding a Roswell alien, Pat the Non-gendered Pirate from Washington, a tiny Matchbox Sprinter van (meta), and a pile of glued-together rocks from Sedona. There is no rhyme nor reason, as it should be.

Susan Gibson at Gruene Hall

Sunday was a lovely day. I drove back from Houston with Elizabeth Wills, who had played a house concert there the night before. I took a nap and hopped in the car to go down to Gruene Hall, one of my most favorite venues on the planet for The Susan Gibson Band Extravaganza. It was rockin’. Michael O’Connor, David Carroll, and Ron Erwin gave the groove and the funk, and SusanG brang it as usual.

On the way home I made my roommate divert to the brand new Buc-ee’s in New Braunfels. I am a big Buc-ee’s fan – we stop there whenever we can on the road. They are like a convenience store on steroids. They are not a truck stop because they don’t allow semis. It’s a weird conglomeration of gas station, souvenir stop, and snack food heaven. There are several out near Houston, but this new one was supposed to be even bigger.

Buc-ee's

Oh my land it was. A beacon in the night, larger than my neighborhood Target and Walmart stores. I walked in and was confronted with rows of snack items and…more snack items.

Buc-ee's wall of snacks

A testament to obscene consumerism or an oasis for a weary traveler? Probably both. I got yogurt pretzels and an iced tea, being the obscene, weary traveler I am.

Greetings from rainy Austin. I love saying that because last summer I thought perhaps I might just lay down on the boiling hot asphalt and wait for the elements to make me into jerky, it was that hot. It will probably get that hot again, but for right now it’s cloudy and threatening to rain and keep raining. As Maria Bamford (see how I just tied the last post in? Ooo) says, “Celebrity moods control the weather.” The weather controls some of my mood…ergo, celebrities control my mood. Suddenly I feel a lot less stable knowing my day is dependent on Jessica Simpson. I take it all back! I just like the rain.

I’m quiet here right now because I’m juggling a lot of things…booking, studio management, a little publicity, trying to play guitar more in my extra hours. It’s all good stuff, although I have just begun implementing The Daily Practice (thought up by one of my favorite bloggers, James Altucher) so that I have scheduled writing time and music time and work time. I also have drink water and eradicate crappy people from my life on the list (I don’t have a lot of crappy people in my life now but the point is to keep watch!).

I’m on day 2 of The Daily Practice. This is replacing my wayward goal of that “Experiment a Month” thing because that lasted a whole two months and then I started traveling a bunch and the only experiment there is to just keep going until you stop and sleep. I’ll report back on TDP in a week or so…pretty excited!

In the meantime, this weekend in Corpus Christi I ate some limes off a real live lime tree. Check something else off the list of “Things I Hadn’t Done And Didn’t Know I Wanted To Until I Did Them.”

Fresh Limes!