We just got home from the 3rd Annual Texas Red’s Red River Songwriters’ Festival (yes, that is a long title) in Red River, NM. We were lucky to be included on the first go around in 2011, and now in year three it’s a growing festival and one of the best times of the year! Except for the trip through the town of Vaughn, NM (see cool cafe sign photo above) when the whole town had no water and the next bathroom stop was 100 miles away I kid you not. That was hard. The rest was great.


Thanks to Brandy for the photo which I stole.

I played a set during the festival (and rapped) which was super fun, and I also handled the merch table for the big shows at the Motherlode. This kept me busy and I didn’t take a lot of photos this trip…which was actually ok by me. I’ve read that taking photos can take you out of the moment, so I had a good time just watching and listening and not picking a filter.

(I DID immediately go back to instagramming my breakfast like all good geeks do, but it was nice to chill out for a weekend).

I did grab a photo of the the wonderful Brandy Zdan playing her set at the Lost Love. She has a new album of instrumentals coming out on Valentine’s Day. Listen to one here.

Also she made handkerchiefs with her name on them, which we immediately renamed “Zdankerchiefs.” You can make cool merch from anything if you’re creative enough!


Here’s Walt Wilkins and Little Brave soundchecking at the Motherlode.

Tickets aren’t on sale yet for next year (give us some recoup time) but check out http://www.redriversongs.com and Like us on Facebook (TM) and be ready to click the ticket link when you can…it’s a magical festival and you need to come!

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!

Whew. I have to admit, I’m gonna sleep a lot tonight. It’s been a whirlwind of adventure these past two weeks, with recording the new album, the Kickstarter, playing Rice Festival, and a bonus encounter with a hero of mine all wrapped into these past few days. I need a nap, but a satisfied, happy one.

In no order:

KICKSTARTER: FUNDED.
Yep! We did it! 133% of goal which blows my mind. I was checking email on Friday morning, a day before the campaign ended, and got this email that a very awesome backer had rounded me out to $10,000 – a number I couldn’t fathom when I started the campaign. My friend Heidi caught me exclaiming about the perfectly round number. We eventually got up to $10,227…I am so excited to put that money to work! We have another studio day this week…who knows what craziness will ensue.

Kickstarter Joy!


RICE FESTIVAL: CONQUERED

I opened the Saturday line up with the help of my amazing friends Emily Shirley and Anna Harris. We done good. People dug it. Emily saved the day by noticing the keyboard provided on stage was set to the wrong key during sound check. It was literally programmed to play the wrong notes. Emily brought hers in and it sounded awesome. These are the things that make sound check WORTH IT, haha.

Rice Festival

Susan’s set the night before was also magic…it was fun to watch people watch her play, if that makes sense. So good.

Susan Gibson

HERO: MET
If you read this blog at all you know I love Mary Chapin Carpenter. Her “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her” was the first song I learned to play on guitar when I was 11…that was 19 years ago. She’s inspired my writing and my guitar playing and my work ethic ever since. I’ve seen her about 12 times in concert, but never had the chance to meet her until Wednesday at the Paramount Theater in Austin. My friend Heidi knows people (named “MCC”) and we got backstage. When Heidi told me this was going to happen about 1.5 hours beforehand, I had three goals:

– speak whole words
– do not babble
– radiate gratitude

I think I did all those things. MCC was as gracious as I had imagined she would be, and we got this photo that is my new favorite possession. Amazing.

Me and Mary Chapin Carpenter

We also saw Mary Chapin and Shawn Colvin at Dosey Doe in The Woodlands the next night and I could watch her guitar playing from super close! Great seats, and a super kick in the pants for inspiration.

Mary Chapin Carpenter at Dosey Doe

To top it all off Susan and her band played a great show at Gruene Hall today and I got to get up and play a little. Super grateful for all these folks.

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And now…a 10 hour nap.

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A dispatch from Team Santana

I feel like I’ve had enough distance from this to post about it.  This is about a venue that I’m not going to name because I’m not out to stir up bad publicity, just tell a story (but if you see me in person and ask, I might tell you if you bring me a cookie).

The other day/week/month, Jananna had a gig at a…place. There were 4 of us total on the bill.

Somewhere in the back and forth about the show, the venue said they’d supply some food, which is super cool. Something about a sandwich was mentioned.

When the time came to cash in on said food after supplying an entertaining 2 hours of music, it turns out the venue really did just mean…one sandwich. Not a sandwich for each performer. One sandwich. I clarified this at the counter, where they said, “Yes…one sandwich” with a straight face. I then uttered these words that kind of made me want to slither under a table and never come back out:

“Can I get the Band Sandwich, then?”

Sigh. Our other compatriots had other places to be so Anna and I split it. It didn’t taste good, but that might have been the acidity of shame.

I try not to be a complainer, and we play for tips quite a bit. We just want to play at this point, and it’s all fine (I know, there’s a larger discussion to be had about playing for free at all, but not for this blog). But I think maybe…just for self-respect purposes, we should have gotten a discount on our food or not been offered anything at all. The four-way Shame Sandwich split just seems a little…awkward.

Because I like to be happy, I will point out that a lot of venues all over really treat musicians well and are very generous.  I know that this type of thing will probably continue because the world is full of musicians who just want to play, and we are grateful every time someone gives us a slot.

It’s just that next time, we’d really prefer to split a bowl of queso instead.

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I just got back from a 10 day jaunt through the Southeast with Susan Gibson, troubadour and driver extraordinaire. We had some house concerts, some venue gigs, and a couple of days off in gorgeous Augusta, where our generous hosts FINALLY met my demands and separated the M&M’s for me, because the yellow ones taste off and don’t try to tell me different. (I’m just kidding, we don’t demand anything…especially concerning M&M’s because all chocolate is good chocolate, but I’m shocked they had the patience and wherewithal to do that!)

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Thanks to the magic of the internet, I was able to keep some things moving with JANANNA…the brand new folk-rap duo with Anna Harris about to take Austin, Texas by storm (and beyond). Via email, recording on iPhones, and the amazing Google Doc tools, we managed to keep writing songs whilst 1200 miles apart. Thank you, technology and Steve Jobs (and ok, Bill Gates too). Our new website was born and we are working on blog content. There’s already some reads up there, go see!

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This week I get to take the stage with 3 of my favorite musicians and people – Katie Lessley, Emily Shirley, and Anna Harris (of Jananna!).  We’ll be singing and laughing and having a great time.  Gigs listed on the tour page, as always.

Jana Katie Anna Emily

Uncle Calvin's

I had the absolute honor of opening for Elizabeth Wills at Uncle Calvin’s in Dallas, Texas last weekend. It’s one of the best listening rooms in the state. Look at the list of folks coming up! I am kind of fangirling out that my name is on the same list as Rose Cousins. (All you DFW go see Rose Cousins…amazing).

Uncle Calvin's Schedule

I had to put a set list somewhere, so I put it on my arm. I did not follow it in order…but I was just happy I didn’t sweat it off.

Set list

Elizabeth and Dace Sultanov on cello were amazing start to finish.

Elizabeth and Dace

That’s big on the gig front. In other news…there’s a Kickstarter coming and EP 3 has studio dates in October at Rubicon. So excited…more news on that when I figure it out.

Brittany S. Pierce Quote

Life’s been busy being lived! I had a fun time in Arkansas and Oklahoma with Susan last week…we had one day where we woke up in Fort Smith, AR…drove to Okmulgee, OK for a private shindig, kept driving for a show that night outside Oklahoma City…she played the show, and we got in the van and drove to Fort Worth to sleep. That was a long day, but enormously productive. Also informative, as I learned there is an all-you-can-eat buffet in Oklahoma called “Chair Crushers.” I can’t make this stuff up. We did not go in.

One of the highlights was jamming at a music school in Texarkana with Lily, our dear buddy Tiffany Shea‘s daughter…Lily is clearly going to be a rock star. I hope she hires me to play keys in her band. Tiny, tiny keys.

Jam!

Susan did a great set of tunes on Good Morning Arkansas in Little Rock…here are the anchors figuring out what to say for “Kick Back Friday.”

Good Morning Arkansas

Amy Garland had us on her show, KABF Backroads, in Little Rock before our show at Hibernia Tavern that night. She is a gem.

Amy Garland

And to top it all off, Susan and Elizabeth filled the room at Live Oak Music Hall in Fort Worth last week and it was magical. Magical like a unicorn.

Elizabeth Wills and Susan Gibson

I LOVE THIS STATE. I’ve had some super fun trips to the Bay Area but never spent any time in SoCal, so when a good friend said Susan and Elizabeth should play in Huntington Beach, that sounded like a great idea. I would move here, but I’d need a job and all I’d really want to do would be to hang out in hip coffee shops and wait for cast members to Glee to walk in so I could stare at them from behind my latte.

We’re staying and playing in Huntington Beach, but yesterday we took a field trip to Santa Monica to McCabe’s Guitar Shop. Stringed instruments everywhere. Amazing inventory and variety. I played a $5000 Eric Clapton model guitar which pretty much made my day.

Eric Clapton Martin

These are our digs – a loft provided by our generous host (Thanks, Tom!). I’m trying to figure out if I can fashion the same kind of chandelier at home but with old GoGurt tubes and birthday candles.

Huntington Beach

Here’s what I look like when I’m playing every Mary Chapin Carpenter song I know and Elizabeth is helping me remember all the words. This might have been “Why Walk When You Can Fly.”

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The ladies played a killer show last night and there is one more tonight! Good times. Thanks to all the folks at the Huntington Beach Art Center.

SG + EW

Tomorrow we fly back and I will go about trying to build a palm tree in the apartment complex yard. Wish me luck, or just send me some frequent flier miles so I can visit again.