A friend of mine sent me a Marketing Plan from Sony Music from 1994 for MCC’s Stones In the Road album. It’s fascinating stuff.


The most interesting thing is noting what is NOT there because it simply did not exist. 1994 isn’t THAT long ago (I say this because I can remember it, but it is actually 18 years ago…yikes!) by album release standards. There is lots of attention on radio, print, and TV…all things that have morphed and/or begun the process of dismantling completely. No social media…because it didn’t exist. I’m trying to remember if I was on AOL message boards by 1994. That might have even been a late 90’s thing.


I remember waiting to hear MCC on the radio…which meant…WAITING. You never knew when they were going to play her. I remember waiting for CMT to play the videos and recording them onto VHS by pressing record at the exact right time! I remember when VH-1 was a music video channel!  Stuff like this is pure nostalgia but also a good reminder…whatever we think is the absolute norm right now will change in less than 20 years…or 10…or 5.

While I was pondering what I would add to the list now if I were re-writing this plan (Facebook/Twitter/Digital Distribution/Podcasts/Blogs/etc.) it made me pause and remember that I shouldn’t get too precious about any of these things because they will all get passed over for the next big thing eventually.  Facebook might make it another 20 years, it may not.  I doubt it.  I’m working hard at cracking the social media code, but it’s best to remember there’s always a new code to crack.

That’s why one of my mantras is “Stay Nimble.”

Mary Chapin Carpenter Ashes and Roses

The new Mary Chapin Carpenter album came out last week and I’ve settled into its brilliance as with all her other albums. I have always gone to a record store on release day to get a real live copy, though I wonder how many more years that tradition will be able to continue, since apparently the new thing is that the next generation down from me has never ever bought an album on disc and they don’t like to pay for things. Whatever. I’m not a stick in the mud, and I’m fine with digital music (I consume a lot of it), but just because it’s not in a plastic jewel case doesn’t mean it should be free. End rant.

ANYWAY…the album is fantastic and while I enjoy a good pop song (CALL ME MAYBE. Yep, I did it)…this is a deep introspective record from (I am not making this up) one of America’s best singer-songwriters. As all of the album reviews and interviews will tell you, it’s not really a lighthearted romp, but I like stuff like that. The words are eloquent and the music is sublime. Just like Shawn Colvin’s new album, it’s kind of amazing to think of songwriters like these two who have had careers of 20+ years and have consistently delivered quality material. It’s a good lesson in standards and growth.

Some musicians don’t age into their thing well – think aforementioned the Call Me Maybe. I won’t call Carly Rae Jepsen down for the count, but all pop folks eventually lose the thing that makes pop music what it is…youth. Songwriters are luckier because, to be trite about it, that type of music and craft ages well like…like…sharp cheddar. It just gets sharper and more defined with age.

Now I want a cracker.

Buy this record.

A cool thing that’s happening is that I book for both Susan Gibson and Elizabeth Wills, both fantastic songwriters with impressive careers. The really cool thing is that they have been friends for about 20 years, and they are finally getting to play some shows together. They’ve had a chance to work things up to where it’s not just both of them onstage at the same time, but they play and sing on each other’s tunes and it’s a true collaborative show.

Susan Gibson and Elizabeth Wills

Their show at Poor David’s Pub on Friday night was their 4th together, and it really showed that they had come into a confidence and ease with each other’s music. They have fairly different styles but they work well together, like…like…PB+J? Sonny+Cher? Dolce+Gabana? Yes. Like Dolce+Gabana.

They have one more booked this year at The Bugle Boy on September 14th, but these duo shows will remain few and far between by design. They’re special events and part of that is keeping them scarce. So what I’m saying is…get thine tickets right when they go on sale!

Now to have a frank talk with them about coordinating their outfits. It’s about time. I’m thinking orange sparkly jumpsuits.

Time for another round of #askjana…thanks everyone!

Will there ever be a rainbow? – Opie
Yes. There is and always will be a rainbow. Sometimes you gotta keep a spray bottle around to see it, or perhaps some artificial sunlight, but there is always a rainbow hanging out. A manufactured rainbow is still a rainbow, and sometimes that is the more satisfying kind.

Rainbow and an iPhone

What is Susan Gibson’s best feature and/or D.C. Bloom’s? – D.C.
You two share a best feature…you’re both hilarious. Susan’s interesting trait (and I told her this the other day so she knows it) is that she is remarkably fair. She will make a situation right simply by being fair about it. This is an under-appreciated and sometimes hard to find feature in people. D.C. Bloom, if you do not know him…is a fantastic wordsmith and you should probably be his Facebook friend to know more about this.

Any good new conspiracy theories? – Kelly
YES. I am currently reading Crossfire by Jim Marrs about JFK. There are a lot of conspiracy theories in that book. Marrs starts with the words, “Do not trust this book.” (I read things that immediately give me a tortured relationship with them). I will say that most conspiracy theories are rooted in a truth, and I encourage you all to stop raising your eyebrows and dig into something – whatever aspect of recent news or history that has peaked your interest with a “That doesn’t sound right.” Because if it doesn’t sound quite right you’re probably sitting on a mountain of exploration and an internet search rabbit hole that won’t let you out for 2 days…so start digging on a weekend. You’ll surprise yourself.

Which cold medicine gives you the best high? – Duggan
I discovered last night that if you combine Nyquil with this stuff called Dream Water that you get from a truck stop (the opposite of a 5-Hour energy shot), you get really woozy really fast. Knocked me right out. Sweet dreams.

What should Jill wear her new necklace with? – Michael
Whatever she picks out when you take her shopping tomorrow, I say!

When are you coming to Iowa? – Heather
In the words of the great Dar Williams…”Iowa oh ooo oh, Iowa oh ooooh ooo oh I-Iowa.” Soon, I hope!

If you were 60 miles from your destination and started at 60mph but then reduced your speed 1mph for every mile you travelled how long would it take you to get to your destination. It’s like this, the first mile you are going 60mph, the second – 59mph, the third – 58mph and so on…. – John

d = rt soooo….I have no idea. Anyone?

Why do musicians try to have day jobs? – Brenda

I say why not? The way the music business goes these days, it’s usually necessary. Perhaps not always a “day job” but usually multiple income streams are needed to fully support a life as a working musician. This multiple stream income could be as simple as live shows + merchandise sales, or perhaps songwriting royalties. However, with the increase in independent musicians (read: no label support) and this thing called the internet (read: less income from downloads/streaming)…I know a lot of musicians with other jobs. I personally think this is awesome…many folks make livings doing other creative pursuits along with their music like graphic design or photography. It’s why I am working at 11 PM on a Monday night after traveling all weekend, but I’m thrilled to have the option.

Who was your first “crush” — and did anything ever come of it? – Jon
I’m going to be very literal with the “first” here…we discussed this in the car and Susan’s first crush was a Scott Baio poster (unclear whether the crush was actually on Scott Baio or the poster itself). Mine was probably something nerdy like Sam Neill who played Dr. Alan Grant in Jurassic Park. Yes, something came of it…I still read the book every 2 years and watch the movie when it’s on TBS. EVERY. TIME.

How did you like Shawn Colvin’s book? – Lisa

I loved it. It’s a memoir about being born in South Dakota (I was too!) and being a songwriter (yay!) and moving to Austin (hey I did that!). I didn’t know we had so much in common. It’s well written, honest, and touches on a lot of things from a writer’s perspective in a humorous and honest way. The best part is for me was when she described a few really awkward gigs. They happen. It’s really nice to know they happen at every level of success and when handled with grace…they become great stories instead of disasters.

Where did the first hardware store buy their stuff to build their store at? – John

Whoa. I imagine perhaps they raided the ark after it got stranded on Mt. Ararat. This is my Biblical solution for lumber.

Have you ever written a story? I know you have written a lot of songs, but has a story – short or otherwise – ever presented itself in your head? Did you write it down? Did you try to get it published??? – Carol
I would love to write a story. I’ve written a few mostly in jest, but never sat down to write a true short story with a real plot. The thought quite frankly frightens me…stories have a lot of words in them. Songs move along pretty quickly. Like 3 minutes quickly. Songwriters are used to moving the story along to the beat of a click track. While writing a story seems luxurious it also seems like I would run out of steam really quickly…but I haven’t really tried. I think I have a good piece of nonfiction in me first before I tackle fiction. And soon.

Do you keep an “on the road” journal? Is it on a continuous roll of paper? – Kathy
I should, but I do not. This blog serves as a lot of my logging. If I could somehow roll my Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare, and blog stream into one thing, it might present a pretty complete picture of my life, but it would still be lacking in my opinions about most of it. Which is why…I will be buying a roll of parchment paper tomorrow. Thank you, Kathy.

Ireland Trip with Susan Gibson and Michael O'Connor

So this is happening. Susan and Michael are joining up with bassist and guitarist extraordinaire Donnie Price and we’re all packing up to go to Ireland next Spring. Literally, I’m so excited I’m pretty much packed already. The cool thing is we’re taking folks with us. People can buy a vacation package that let’s us all ride on a bus (excuse me, luxury coach) together and see the sights and then take in some shows with SG+MOC+DP at night. It’s pretty much the perfect set up.

More info is here and if you want to receive email updates, you can sign up for those as well!

Pre-show Tacos

Every year for 3 weeks certain troopers go to Kerrville to Quiet Valley Ranch and camp out and watch music and play music and try to stay cool in the Texas heat. Many more go for a week or a weekend. Wimps like me go for a day and then come back and sleep in my own bed. Regardless of the length, a trip to Kerrville is always magical, even if it is sweaty.

This year Susan and Elizabeth shared a round with Rebecca Loebe and Paula Nelson at the Threadgill Theater. It was a great show.

Susan Gibson and Elizabeth Wills
Sharron’s camera takes way better photos so I stole this shot from her!

We left and beat a hail storm back…that is my kind of camping.

Public Market

I spent a few days in the great Pacific Northwest last week because my lovely niece, Heather, graduated from high school and my awesome nephew, Philip, graduated from 8th grade. Lots of parties!

Congrats Grad!

We also got some sight-seeing in and went to the Pacific Science Center to see the Tutankhamun and the Great Pharaohs exhibit from Cairo. WOW.

Death Mask: Psusennes I

I used to want to be an Egyptologist and then I realized most of the fancy gold stuff had been found already and what was left was a lot of digging for rocks in the desert, so I changed that plan. I am still fascinated by the history and as always…I love looking at old things that were here long before I was and will be around for longer than I can imagine.

Canopic Container - King Tut Exhibit
This is where they kept Tut’s stomach when they embalmed him!

Pike Place Market

No trip to Seattle is complete without a visit to Pike Place Market. It’s really one of the few places where honey, jam, fish, and fruit can hold my attention for an extended period of time…everything here is fresh picked and caught and it’s a fun energy.

Now it’s back in hot Austin but thankfully…there’s rain a’comin’!