After a road trip through the wildest of the West, it was over to New York and Pennsylvania with Susan for some rare (and hopefully now, less rare) East Coast shows. We know a NYC local, so we got the grand walking tour of the city (thanks, Norma!). I wore inappropriate shoes. I tried really hard to wear appropriate ones, except I really don’t ever wear real shoes, so my normally flip-flopped and free toes were freaking at the walls suddenly encasing them. Lesson learned, next time I think I’ll wear Chacos and avoid puddles.

New York is, of course, exactly what you think it is. All that stuff you see in the movies and photographs – the skyline, the activity, the brownstones, the subway…that’s what it is. Texas is so car-centric that it was awesome to be able to walk or subway everywhere for a change.


What am I looking at? I probably thought I saw Tina Fey.


No lie, anyone can walk across the bridge and see this view.

After a fun show at Hill Country BBQ in Manhattan which is like walking into a Texas BBQ place in, well…Manhattan, we headed down to Bleeker Street where I got to play a tune. Then my friend Stephanie and I talked philosophy and religion on the street outside The Bitter End. It was like the 60’s.

We headed down to Bethlehem and Philadelphia. More historical things. Awesome shows with Susan and Christine Havrila.

And now, back in Texas for a minute. I am getting reacquainted with my apartment…my neighbors don’t think I really live here, but they check on my plants, so it’s cool.

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.

Note 1: Day 3 of my Kickstarter for my next record and WOW. I am humbled and frankly dumbfounded by the generosity that has been shown. I kind of figured I’d be pre-selling a lot of $5 downloads (which is awesome) and threw in the house concert option as an “It’ll round out the list” thought. AND PEOPLE ARE PURCHASING HOUSE CONCERTS. And ceramic pigs. And eBooks. And Trilogies. Mind blown. So excited!  Get you some.

The Bugle Boy

This post is about the other album project I’m thrilled to be a part of planning this Fall. Last weekend, Susan gathered her band consisting of Billy Masters, David Carroll, and Ray Rodriguez and recorded a live show at The Bugle Boy. It was amazing. I see a lot of Susan shows and they’re all great, but sometimes extra magic gets sprinkled in and this was one of those nights. The room was sold out, the sound was amazing, the crowd was stoked to be there, and the band was excited to play. All of the warm fuzzies were in place to make a stellar recording. We listened to the rough tracks this week so Susan could start whittling them down to a track list and everything sounds excellent. She has a tough job of choosing.

Susan Gibson Band at the Bugle Boy

The other amazing thing is that during the break at the show I was wandering around filming things and when it was time to start I meandered back to my seat and found…this guitar in it.

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My buddy Geno was selling it, and I fell in guitar love, but decided that I needed to pay my taxes instead (I am half grown up). Susan knew this and apparently she swooped in and decided it was to be my…CD recording night bonus? Man. I was surprised and thrilled and maybe drooled a little bit. Like, a drool of appreciation. It sounds killer, mostly due to the work Geno put into it when he had it. It’s full of good mojo!

Anyway, Susan’s album will be out in February and I am so excited to help get things ready.  It’s a good time for new stuff.

jpokick

First things first…I am Kickstartering my new EP and it is officially LAUNCHED! Let me take a moment to say: “AAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”

It feels good to get that out because I had a heck of a time wrapping my brain around it. Kickstarter is a wonderful resource for musicians. Basically, for an indie artist (i.e. not backed by major label money), the typical way of making a record is paying up front for everything, either out of pocket or putting things on lots of credit cards. The producer needs to get paid, the mixer, the mastering engineer, the graphic artist for the artwork, the company who prints the physical CDs…all of those people need to be paid. The artist would then hope and pray their sales after the release would make up for the cost and then some.

It’s a model that works but…it’s stressful. Along came Kickstarter and shifted the paradigm. Now artists can ask their community for support before the album is made, so that the expense is not so mind-blowing up front. There’s also the awesome component of bonuses for backers, so the artist can customize packages and offer really unique stuff as a thank you. Yay!

So I’ll say upfront, I was so nervous about making my own video talking about the project. I have made lots of funny and clever things in the past, many of them with Susan Gibson or Elizabeth Wills, or just because I was messing around. Whatever it was, the pressure of attaching it to a piece of art I was working on, or the fact that I grew up Midwestern and Midwesterners are sometimes (SOME OF US) bad about asking for help (but we will ALWAYS bring something to the potluck)…I was having a heck of a time with my video. I mulled it over for MONTHS. I did a draft and I sent it around to a few trusted people (THANK YOU Amy, Anna, Susan, and Heather!). The feedback came back…”Hey, you can do better.” AUGH.

At which point I reverted to 6th grader fist clenching defiance and yelled (to no one except my Lady Gaga poster) “I DON’T WANNA!” But I knew they were right. I could do better, and I needed help. (Thank you Heather…she’s done it before so she’s a Kickstarter pro and also tells me what’s what).

I went over to Susan’s house, mostly to whine and eat brownies, and Susan is awesome and offered to help (she also provided aforementioned brownies). We made a date to meet the next day and do the video. And we did, and it made such a difference to have a friend to help.

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This is the A Team!

It made sense. It always makes a difference to have a buddy to help. Whether it’s making a video, making an album (I couldn’t do anything on the level of what this is going to sound like without Dan), or gathering a whole group of supporters to make this thing happen with joy and humor and good intentions. As stoic and self-reliant as I’d like to be, I’m no island…and it is absolutely okay to ask and receive help. That’s kind of what making it through life on this planet is about.

So here I am, asking that if you dig the music or the blog or the videos or all of it…pre-order this new album. It’s gonna rawk, and I want you to be in on it. I really appreciate it! Be a backer here!

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.

Lady Gaga Ball

We did it again, and Gaga did it again. SG and I went to see our 2nd Gaga show and the Lady managed to make it just as cool as the first one.

Last time we dressed up, and this time we just slummed it, which was fine because I’ve been too busy to think about something crazy to wear. The weird thing was…we were kind of spectacles last time and on this tour, I think we saw way more people dressing up and we definitely saw some spectacles. I saw a hotdog, lots of Gaga incarnations, lot of costumes that lit up, and lots of metallic plastic. It was awesome just wandering around the Toyota Center and gawking.

GAGA!

Our seats were so high there was no one behind us, but we were to the right of the stage and if you spit with the right projection and windspeed, it might have landed on the stage. (I did not spit on the stage). The view was good and I enjoyed not having anyone behind us to talk or distract me from my pop ecstasy.

Gaga

There was a weird story line about Mother G.O.A.T. (Government Owned Alien Territory) and a weird floating head which at some point Gaga vanquished by pointing at it (pop super powers?), but the stage and set itself was stunning. A giant castle that moved in an out, Gaga emerged the first time on a horse (made of people), a wardrobe section that spun around and recollected some great tour costumes from years past (the Kermit dress!), Gaga as motorcycle riding around, the dancers popping out of a giant alien um…birth canal…oh! And there was a MEAT COUCH along with the meat dress.

Each song was a spectacle and required a costume change, but none of it dragged. The energy was non-stop. Gaga peppered her banter with things to make us feel empowered and proactive, which should really happen at more pop shows. Think how well adjusted the kids would be if they heard that a lot. I’m serious…one can argue she’s weird or frivolous, but her Little Monsters head home feeling good about the world and themselves no matter what they look like or where they came from, and that’s an important thing.

I’d go again…next time we’re dressing up. No meat dress for me, though. Maybe zucchini.

Born This Way Ball - Lady Gaga

Happy January 2013!  I started out the year right with some arts and crafts.

Sharpies!

Since I just moved and have had roommates for so long, I found that I had no plates or bowls to my name. Susan had an old set and had also read on Pinterest that if you Sharpie on them and bake them, they’re good to go. We had to do it.

iEat
Nerdy.

Chihuahua
Shanghai the Chihuahua

Some of the Sharpie rubbed off after the first baking, so I’ve been baking them again at a higher temperature for a longer time. Some of the color faded (which actually helped Shanghai turn to her natural color of brown), and I haven’t tested them under water yet, but I am hopeful because making your own dishes is COOL.

Carry on and have a creative 2013!

So every songwriter…I take that back…MOST songwriters want to be covered. It means another musician found your material moving enough to want to sing it themselves and internalize it for 3-5 minutes a night. I think it’s a huge thing.

SG and EW

To my utmost surprise, Susan Gibson and Elizabeth Wills covered an unrecorded song of mine called Throw You Forward this past Thursday at their Cactus Cafe show. They didn’t tell me it was in the plans, so when they introduced it my jaw dropped to the floor and remained as such the whole song. It was so beautiful. I can’t even lay claim to the gorgeousness…they put a layer of shine on my song that I hadn’t ever imagined.

Shelley, Walt, and Susan

Then Susan sung it again in Luckenbach on Sunday, and lo and behold the amazing Walt Wilkins and Shelley King sang it with her. I FEEL SO COVERED. It is neat to hear it take form from others’ voices.

The dream? Livin’ it.

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.