Singer Songwriter Blogger Guitarist Content Creator
Well. Here I sit pressed deep into the cushions of my couch because I haven’t seen it for a week. It was an amazing seven days full of a lot of discoveries, ideas, cool people, Austin culture, and walking. I’ll be recapping different things in different posts, but here’s a general overview of the conference side of things.
Here’s what I packed for the week…I did pretty well.
Left to right…an iPad, various charging cables, the Interactive Pocket Guide so I could figure out what to do next, notebooks of varying sizes, 2 pens (which I used up), business cards, my trusty badge (aka Key to the Kingdom), and all of it shoved into my Timbuk2 backpack which worked like a champ. Boom.
This shuttle became very handy because the venues for SXSW Interactive were spread far and wide downtown. Some talks were at the Long Center a bit removed from the main downtown area, but most were at a cluster of hotels near the Convention Center. There was a half hour between panels and some were more popular than others…meaning massive lines if you didn’t get there early. Basically, this reminded me of the semester in college when I had a class at the top of campus followed by a class 15 minutes later in the engineering area on campus which was tucked far away and even running usually made me late. Except I HAD to go to that class, and here if you can’t get into a panel, you pick another one. Ideally in the same building.
I only missed out on one panel (something about Storytelling with NPR’s Michele Norris whom I love), but a lot of folks were having to Plan B it a lot. This is the issue when 24,000 geeks descend for a conference.
Thankfully my friend Chad was attending as well so he showed me the ropes of getting to the right panels in the right places. We didn’t match schedules a ton but it was good to have someone to compare notes with (and gripe about lines and rejoice about awesome food truck tacos).
Most people took notes on their laptops. The power bill at the convention center must be insane this month. Everywhere you looked people were shoving plugs into walls for tiny bits of juice to get them through the next panel. Many companies had “charging lounges” set up to kindly let you plug things in, until you realized it was a giant ploy to market things as you while you brought your phone back to life.
I took notes the old fashioned way, because I always have and I think it makes me remember things better. I plan to compile all these notes into a document of things I learned…forthcoming this weekend (I hope).
More in the next post about speakers and celebrity encounters, because that’s what I was really there for. Just kidding. But really, celebrities. Oh, and some music.
This is an older song of mine but it holds up. It’s also in a weird tuning so it doesn’t come out at every gig, so I decided to put it on Youtube instead. Here we go.
More random shots from Huntington Beach. Typical tourist? Yes I am.
Patio flower gazing…
Some houses in Santa Monica near McCabe’s Guitar Shop.
We just saw the sign, not L.A.
AND A PELICAN! He knows how to make tourists feed him.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
I made a couple of jaunts to see some great people this week, reminding me that every songwriter and musician needs to fill the well with new music and live shows. Keeps us on our toes.
I went up to Dallas to see some friends and to see Tift Merritt live. Tift has been in my list of tops for a while and I have never seen her live, nor had I been to the Kessler Theater. Both were excellent – the show and the venue. I probably looked like a weirdo at the merch table because SusanG! and I had just spent some time pricing and ordering new SusanG! t-shirts, and I had been feeling up cotton/poly blend for a week every time I saw something that looked soft. I did feel…and I did buy.
Thursday night we went to see Suzanne Vega, who is like…one of the folk mothers of folk. I had never seen her live, and she played the Paramount Stateside in Austin. She really REALLY knows how to command a stage. Yes, she did do “Tom’s Diner” (doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo), and yes, it was great.
Friday night rounded it out with a great Susan and Elizabeth duo show. They are great musicians of course, but live together they also get hilarious. It’s fun to see!
New resolution: see at least one “out of my norm” show a month. I wonder when Lady Gaga will come back through?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Kelly and Brandy tore it up with a Beatles tune…
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.
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!
It’s been a great start to the new year…I’m settling into San Marcos life. I like this town because I can walk to the bank, grocery store, and two coffee shops really easily. This is exciting.
Aside from some gig stuff I haven’t done a ton of wandering because I am still settling into my new place, and after reading a lot of Apartment Therapy blog posts and thanks to the kindness of SusanG who hath bestowed light, I have some sweet lighting happening in the new place. Due to window and wall placement my living room is pretty dark, so light even during the day is essential. This warms it right up. This is as decorator-y as you will see me get.
The first show of the year for Susan was songswapping with Shelley King at Luckenbach, and Shelley and I found ourselves providing the beat via a 6-minute long game of patty cake onstage. We did awesomely, but our palms hurt.
We also had a grand time at Oma’s Underground in Gruene, which I tell people is like a speakeasy because it’s underground (I think it’s an old cellar) but it’s really obvious where the door is, so it’s probably not a speakeasy. Right.
More good stuff ahead…after I take an 8 hour nap called bedtime.