I’ve had this idea for several years now (because that’s my rule with a tattoo) and I finally had it come to fruition. I like seeing my New Mexico state outline and Zia sun on my arm when I play guitar, and so I thought…why not add a little more of home to the mix? The thing you think about when you think about New Mexico is adobe and blue sky. We’re really good at that. I wanted to have a little bit transferred to my arm, so even when I’m walking around big scary Los Angeles, I know where I come from.

I knew the color work had to be stunning to pull this off, since we’re dealing with two main colors and one is similar to my skin tone. After hunting for months, I finally found Zulu. Interestingly, he is based in L.A. but is moving his business to Austin, so he spends a lot of time here now. His portfolio is amazing, and I knew he was The Dude. (Also, his life story is fascinating…read this NPR article about him!)

I took my friend Katie along for moral support and documentation, and it took about 2.5 hours from start to finish.

The outline and placement test:

Zulu used a few photos I had taken but adapted the buildings into something that doesn’t exist in real life, so I didn’t get an actual landmark tattooed on my arm.

The finished work:

The artist and the recipient!

This is the 4th year we’ve done the Red River Songwriters’ Festival in Red River, NM in late January, and the first year we actually had to brave some snowy roads to get there! We did it though…because nothing can keep us from a line up like this:

It was one big weekend of good friends, inspiration, and snowy vistas.

Lori McKenna headlined on Thursday night and was absolutely incredible. She’s had songs covered by Little Big Town and Faith Hill among others, but nothing beats hearing Lori play them with just her voice and a guitar.

Matraca Berg and Jeff Hanna headlined the next night, and again…so much goodness and a slew of hits. Matraca started off with “Wrong Side of Memphis” that Trisha Yearwood made popular, and ended with “Strawberry Wine” which is one of those songs that you KNEW BY HEART if you were anywhere between the ages of 12 and 112 in the 90’s.

Then I got a guitar lesson from Jeff Hanna and everything was amazing. Music takes you on some strange, wonderful journeys sometimes.

I know people know that I am a New Mexican and we love our chile, but do you KNOW, really? When one doesn’t live in New Mexico and it’s chile harvest time, one does things like…buys a bushel and drives it 12 hours home in a cooler. Because it’s necessary. Some photos of the process:

1) Refuse to do it the easy way:

2) Get a bushel freshly roasted and almost faint from the delicious aroma.

3) Take it home in a giant box and smell up your car.

4) Divide into smaller bags for ease of use (and maybe to share…maybe not).

5) Enjoy it while it lasts.

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!

It’s silly that I do not make it to Santa Fe and the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum every time I am in New Mexico, because it’s a beautiful town and O’Keeffe is one of my favorite artists. She painted for over 60 years, lived to be 99, and her body of work is stunning.

She was also full of wisdom…

Definitely check out the O’Keeffe Museum next time you are in The City Different.

Postcard

Greetings from my couch (yep, it’s still here and still comfortable). We had a whirlwind trip to Red River, NM for the 2nd Annual Texas Red River Songwriters’ Festival. This was momentous because “2nd annual” means the first one worked well enough to do it again. Last year we had a small but mighty crowd and THIS year the festival attendance increased 7-fold. That’s not bad for Year Two.

This festival was the brainchild of my friend and fabulous songwriter Drew Kennedy, and he purposefully added the apostrophe at the end of Songwriters’ because the artists own the festival, which is cool and pretty dang unheard of in festival land. I’m so glad he asked Susan to be in on Year One, and this year I got to play a set at the “Wine and Music of New Mexico” wine-tasting event. Josh Grider is from Las Cruces and I represented ABQ. Maybe the only time I have gotten a gig BECAUSE I am a New Mexican.

All of the writers are awesome musicians, thinkers, and most of all…great people. We heard music from Walt Wilkins, Brandy Zdan, Kelly Mickwee, Mike Addington, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Josh, Drew, and Susan all weekend long.

Red River Songwriters' Festival

Susan’s birthday was smack in the middle of the festival so I got to join all the awesome folks onstage for our improvised but might I say very fun tribute to Susan. We played “Happiest When I’m Moving” which is a WAY better song than “Happy Birthday” ANY DAY (even on your birthday).

Birthday Suz

Brandy Zdan is seriously awesome, y’all. She’s from Canada and now she lives in Texas and how she doesn’t melt in the summer, I don’t know, but her songs are awesome and her guitar playing is divine.

Brandy Zdan


Walt and Tina Wilkins
are not only two of the finest musicians I know but the coolest people. They sang at Saturday morning breakfast and now breakfast will never be the same.

Walt and Tina Wilkins

Kelly and Brandy tore it up with a Beatles tune…

Kelley Mickwee and Brandy Zdan

And the Birthday Suz delivered awesome music all weekend long…made even better by the snowy backdrop. It’s 80 degrees in San Marcos today. I miss New Mexico.

Susan Gibson

Make plans for next year’s 3rd Annual…this thing might explode, and you might want to be in on it early before we start doing some crazy lottery system for wristbands because demand exceeds space. Red River is a small town, you know!

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.

Pretty thrilled to be in my home state of New Mexico for almost a whole week. We have spent three days in Albuquerque and head to Taos and Red River this week. The weather is sublime considering there is no humidity and it’s under 100 degrees. I am having to drink water like a camel, though.

New Mexico Sky

The road to Santa Fe.

Golden Pride Tortillas

Tortillas off the conveyer at Golden Pride.

Susan and Jamie

Jamie and Susan at Solid Grounds in Albuquerque.

Ristra

A ristra by the merch in Santa Fe.

Boys

Cute boys I claim as my nephews!

This weekend we were in beautiful Red River, NM for the first annual Red River Songwriter Winterfest. First annual festivals, as Susan has told me, are always a crapshoot. They’re expensive to put on and if they haven’t happened before, there’s no telling how many people will come.

Luckily, this one turned out to be fantastic. It was a weekend of music from Suz, Drew Kennedy, Josh Grider, Kelley Mickwee, Mike Addington, Rick Fowler, and Brandy Zdan. Some of them I knew, some of them I didn’t, all were excellent.

Susan Gibson and Snow
Best photo evaaarrr!


Drew Kennedy and Susan Gibson
Drew+Susan=Awesome


Kelley Mickwee and Brandy Zdan
Kelley and Brandy


Breakfast Burrito - Christmas
My chile fix was had.