We all know where I stand on the topic of Mary Chapin Carpenter. She’s only one of the greatest American songwriters ever. I am fortunate sometimes when the Greatest comes to my neighborhood, and I get to see a show! My friend Heidi rolled into town from California – we’ve seen about 45 million MCC shows together (or like…8? A lot), and we road tripped down to Galveston for a night at The Grand Opera House. Amazing space, and it’s survived a couple of hurricanes.

I was scared to take photos because I don’t like getting kicked out of things I paid to see, but I did snag a set list.

Then, in a ridiculous twist of fate…MCC played 20 minutes from my house, but I could not go that night because I had a gig. A really cool gig…my friend Noelle Hampton and I organized a night called Popped! A Folk Tribute to Pop Music. We asked all our friends to come play one song each, and we gave all the money to Austin Pets Alive…it was pretty epic. Look at THIS set list:

We raised $1300! Here’s Noelle and Emily being awesome on a Hall & Oates cover:

Then Heidi and I took off to Oklahoma City because through some insane miracle of the internet (and the fact that I am always on it), I got front row seats for this show. See?

I had never sat that close before – I was studying, literally, at the feet of my hero. I got to see all the cool guitar stuff and that was worth the ticket price alone. Another crazy great show complete with a Q&A in which I asked what book MCC was reading. She replied with this suggestion, and I suggest you take it.

Then it was back to real life for about 2 says…then on to Los Angeles! That’s the next post.

I feel the need to blog more before it is 2014. Uh…

I had the joy of spending the week before Christmas with the Traveling Red River Songwriters’ Tour…with the amazing Drew Kennedy, Walt Wilkins, Kelley Mickwee, Brandy Zdan, Josh Grider, and SusanG. We all gather for the Red River Songwriters’ Festival in January in New Mexico, and this set of Texas shows was to show people how fun and awesome the festival will be. I think we succeeded. Truly an amazing bunch of songwriters and more importantly, human beings.


Kelley and Walt!


Walt and Suz


Drew and Josh


Brandy

Join us in Red River…it’s a small festival and we keep it that way so get your tickets soon!

Lots of good music stuffs going on this month…both spectating and participating. First up: HOBRO…an all girl band named HOBRO because we can.

Elizabeth Wills, Christa Hillhouse, Susan Gibson, and moi formed a girl band to play our friend Anna’s benefit out in Wimberley, TX. We played only Susan Gibson songs, so it was kind of like a Susan Gibson cover band featuring Susan Gibson. I got to bring my newish electric guitar out for a spin. Aaaannd…I also Photoshopped us a promo shot:

Hobro

We didn’t do our hair quite the same…I am standing creepily in the dark.

Hobro

I played a very fun show with the illustrious Emily Shirley and Katie Lessley at Flipnotics in Austin…we always have fun together.

Flipnotics

As a spectator…I had a 90’s nostalgia fit watching Alanis Morissette throw down at Stubb’s. Her new album is great, and her old stuff really holds up. I still remember all the words to Ironic, which impressed me.

Alanis Morissette - Stubb's

Susan played a great show in Fort Smith, Arkansas with Wendy Colonna and Shelley King. They take a good photo, too!

Wendy, Susan, Shelley

Last weekend it was The Rice Festival in Fischer, TX with Terri Hendrix and Lloyd Maines!

Terri and Lloyd at Rice Fest

Keepin’ it real…go see some music.

Macy Gray

We had a great time at the Snowy Range Music Festival in Laramie this weekend…we got there a day early to see Macy Gray (Susan noted that a good Macy cover band should be called the Gracy Mays). I really only knew Macy from her big 1999 album and the song “I Try”…and her hair. She put on a great live show and though it started 1.5 hours late because of some rain, it was worth the standing around. even the wind whipping her feather boa in her face a few times didn’t phase her. Pro.

Snowy Range Music Festival

On Sunday, Susan played a great set in the afternoon. Shout out to our friends from Centennial, WY…they make me happy every time we see them!

Susan Gibson

Then it was off to Drake, CO and now Fort Collins. We have one week left on this tour…for being 5 weeks long it really has gone pretty fast. Weird, but awesome. Southbound!

Montana Schoolbus

We have had a swell time this trip. A lot of it has been good pacing on the shows and driving and rest days, and a lot of it is we know some nice people in gorgeous places. After Bozeman we headed to Flathead Lake where the Gibson Family has a cabin and stayed up there for about 4 days and played in Bigfork, Whitefish, and Missoula.

Flathead Lake Montana

Then we headed west to Richland, Walla Walla, and Gig Harbor. My sister and her family live there, so we got to hang out with them for a few days. The thing I did not know about Washington is that there, a blackberry is considered a weed. In Texas, we pay $6.99 for a pint of berries, and in Washington they grow along the side of the road. We walked around my sister’s neighborhood and picked a bunch and ate them with ice cream.

Blackberries!

I also got some quality time with my nephews and niece. Jenny works at a coffee shop (and when you work at a coffee shop near Seattle it is SERIOUS BUSINESS) so we caffeinated and I saw my nephews off on their first day back to high school. Excellent.

Jenny at work

We had a few days to get here to Livingston, Montana, so we stopped in Spokane on night one and saw a movie which rarely happens. Then we headed to Missoula and had a leisurely evening there, too, after stopping at the Cataldo Mission in Idaho – an interesting National Landmark along the highway.

Catalo Mission - Idaho

It’s all about the pacing. From this evening for about the next 12 days we have to be somewhere every day…but again, all good places and good people. And I must say…my luck at finding wifi on this trip has been astounding. America is considerably more wired than it was even 2 years ago…I say as I sit in the Murray Bar in downtown Livingston, Montana next to a guy with a miner’s hat and beard.

Nuevo Mexico

As gorgeous as our drives are…and as cool as the places are we visit to play music, we often see a town at dusk, play a show, stay overnight, and leave in the morning. This leaves hardly any time to really get to know a place.

I’ve been to Taos several times over the past few years and have always loved it. We got to spend a couple of days there this time and actually acted like tourists! We wandered around the Plaza and I found a retablo for my wall at home – the Patron Saint of Writers, St. Frances de Sales. Lynn Garlick is the artist and I love her style. I’m not Catholic, but this kind of art reminds me of New Mexico and I love it.

Patron Saint of Writers

Susan is awesome and found me this magnet, which should probably be attached to me at all times.
Patron Saint of Computers

We stopped a the Taos Art Collective to browse and both of us were drawn to a bunch of paintings by Bill Binger. He uses really bright colors and paints New Mexican landscapes. I decided I wanted a print but we had just started walking around so I figured we could stop back in on our way to the car. As luck would have it, by the time we returned, Bill Binger himself was manning the counter at the collective so we got to talk to him about his awesome work. I got the print with Georgia O’Keeffe in it…she’s one my my heroes.

Bill Binger Art in Taos

Luckily we get to be back in Taos for Michael Hearne’s Big Barndance in September! I shall try to shop less, though. I’ll just take photos next time.

It’s been an abnormal July because I’ve been home for most of it, as opposed to touring. We leave in July 31st for a tour all the way to Washington and back, so July has made me batten up my home hatches and appreciate being in the same bed every night.

It’s been awesomely busy…I’ve been working on some projects for Susan (whilst she takes an actual vacation for once yay!) as well as Rubicon, and working on a project of my own. It’s an eBook. I can’t tell you exactly what it’s about because I haven’t finished writing it yet (which may cause you to shake your head and say, “Maybe you shouldn’t be writing a book yet, Jana!”) but I PROMISE IT WILL BE SO AWESOME…if you have interest in or care about the music business. Or me. And if you don’t care about me then…get off my blog.

That was rude, I didn’t mean it. Keep reading.

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To list some of the “month at home activities” I’ve been doing…I had a Nerd Day with Elizabeth and saw the LBJ Presidential Library as well as the Ransom Center, which is one of 5 institutions in America to have an actual Gutenberg Bible. That was nerdalicious. (As I typed nerdalicious I cringed but I’m keeping it. KEEPING IT).

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I got to hang out at Congress House Studio for a day whilst Elizabeth recorded something awesome (you’ll hear it when the album comes out which has no date nor even a time frame yet so do not ask…it was a demo for kicks). Congress House and Mark Hallman have worked on some amazing albums by people like Ani DiFranco and Eliza Gilkyson, so I was definitely happy to soak that vibe in.

It’s been rainy and not 117 degrees here which has made it all the more pleasant. I was certain I’d be curled up in the fetal position by now because last year was awful here, but it hasn’t been really been hitting 100, which makes me want to dance and I think is contributing to my progress on the eBook and things. Clouds and rain make me want to Write. I also look at this photo of a coffee mug (warning, cuss word involved) when I need a kick in the pants. I am close to buying it but haven’t yet.

I’ve got a gig this weekend with Katie and Emily, I found a used guitar I am in love with and now have to sell some other gear I don’t use anymore to justify it, and I moved a lot of furniture because I got a new bed and got rid of the old one. My office is almost set up, too.  This is a lot of shuffling for me, people!  I must have missed Spring Cleaning and am making up for it.

Oh, and I have a coaching session next week with my blogging hero, the equivalent of a blogging rock star in my world.  SO EXCITED.  She asked for my Myers Briggs type.  I am in INTJ.  This will ideally tell her all she needs to know about me to tell me what to do with myself. I’m sure I’ll be worked up into a ball of nerves by Thursday.

And that…completes this much needed and meandering blog post…abruptly, because I am pragmatic in my perfectionism, says the INTJ page.

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.