Monday, June 23, 2008

One Star

I supposedly learned my lesson in Asheville in '02, then I made the pronouncement in Jackson, MS in '05. But I think this time I've really burned it into my brain so that it will stick. No more 1 star hotels! Do not be tempted by the low, low price. Even when gas is over $4 a gallon. Do not be tempted by the extra 1000 points you'll get toward another stay. Don't see the Econo Lodge listing online and think "That one wasn't so bad in Vermont..." The risks are too high! The bedbugs, the lurking men, the late night yelling, the chain that has been replaced several times, I'm don't deserve that! I just listened to Deepak Chopra and he told me to go first-class to live first class, so this is really the last time. This star is worth more than one star.
Three days later, and a guest bed, a couch and an air mattress sleepier, and 30 gallons of gas lighter, I was getting frustrated online booking a hotel for myself and BettySoo in Des Moines. 

Abi: Ahhh! A room with two queen beds is $8 more than a room with only one queen bed. 

BettySoo: I'll sleep with you for $4. 

Econo Lodge, two cheap girls are on their way.
The next day, we were treated like the stars we are when KUNI Radio put us up at The Blackhawk Hotel. Back on track and the pronouncements begin again. . .

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Rooting for Jewel

When Jewel's first album came out, full of passion and her quirky vocals and ways of describing relationships and political issues, I was a 19 and fell right in love with it. I would have really been a huge fan if she hadn't been on a major label, I was snobby like that. I've casually followed her releases since then, and always been a little embarrassed to admit that I liked to sing along to "Hands" or "Standin' Still."

When I heard she was releasing a country album, I rolled my eyes with everyone else, thinking "another artist who has played out her pop career is carpet-bagging it over to Nashville." But after hearing so many Nashville publishers and A&R guys tell me that my music is too clever, too smart, too off-beat for country radio, I started to really root for Jewel. She's already proven that her music has wide appeal. Quirky as it is, it's also real and really catchy. So if Jewel's songs do well on country radio, maybe the industry will have a little more faith in the fans' ability to understand music with subtlety and layers. The Dixie Chicks were trailblazers in that regard until they crossed a line and got blacklisted, but I believe there are lots of listeners who are still missing the depth that the Chicks brought to the airways.

So I'm going to buy Jewel's record and sing along. And I'm going to keep trying to sneak smart lyrics into my country songs, maybe a few more ears will be open to it now.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Creating through stress

I'm usually wiped out by co-writing. It takes so much emotional energy to connect with someone and create through all the stress. You have expectations and hopes, and I'm a pleaser, so I really want them to like me and think I'm smart. After 4 hours of all that brainwork, I mostly want a meal and a nap. But I had two co-writes today I feel great! They were very different, one fast and high energy, one more contemplative and measured. But mostly, I'm just happy to be creating with other people and sharing this whole crazy experience of songwriting, instead of going it alone like I usually do. Eamon McLoughlin and I finished the duet we started over a year ago and I really like how it turned out. Now I just have to find someone to sing it with me!

I also found out today that I'm going to be playing at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival/Grassy Hill: Emerging Artists Showcase! I know I recently vowed that I wasn't going to enter any more contests, but I had already submitted to this one and kind of forgotten. But then a couple of weeks ago, I got a message saying the selection process was taking longer than expected and I was reminded that I had entered and was sent into that whole nasty cycle of checking e-mail and the festival website every hour to see if they had announced the artists. Uhg! I hate that I get so caught up in such things. But this isn't technically a contest, it's a showcase, so I can just be happy that I was selected and have fun at the festival and not worry about the survey they are going to give the audience to see who their favorites are. Yeah, right. I know I'm going to worry about it. Maybe the universe is giving me one more chance to really learn my lesson about being competitive and nervous.

I was listening to a podcast called the Accidental Creative the other day and in it, they were talking about the false boundaries and rules we put around ourselves as artists. There was a cool visualization from "The Now Habit" by Neil Fiore where you imagine walking across a board that is 1 foot wide and 30 feet long. No problem, right? Now, raise that same board 100 feet in the air. I, for one, would not even dare to take the first step. It's the same task, but the stakes are much higher. I thought about that when I played at Chattanooga Market on Sunday. I felt so comfortable, so in control of my voice, and I really had fun performing. And I wondered why I can't feel like that when I'm singing the exact same songs in front of judges. The one thing that's not going to help me, is to get nervous. So maybe it is good that I have one more contest in my future. It's one more chance to ignore the external judgement and high stakes and just live in the moment of my performance. The cool part is, if I succeed, I won't have to hate contests so much!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Big Screen

The movie hasn't officially premiered, so I was sworn to secrecy as I entered the screening and vowed that I would not blog about it or go on ET and spoil it for everyone. But, I don't think it's wrong for me to tell you how excited I was to be sitting in a sold out movie theater with the main credits floating by at to see my name there. In a movie. "Original Music by Abi Tapia" Me! OK. That's all I'm gonna say. But go see it in LA June 22-27 or New York July 11-13. Wahoo!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Airport Productivity

I’m at the Houston airport typing away. I sometimes find that I can get lots of work done when I’m flying. I think it’s because I generally don’t have internet access. In other words, no distractions. I just fill up my outbox and nothing new comes in. Yay!

I do not give a “Yay” to the new paying for checked bags policies. I don’t know how we’re going to afford getting around if this trend continues. But I love to go places, I don’t want to play shows and listen to music in a virtual computer world! Bring on the green revolution. Isn’t someone working on solar airplanes or something?

I was up soooo late last night stuffing envelopes with my new CDs. I really like the new handmade covers. I used some old maps that have been all over the country with me, and I had some custom rubber stamps made with my name and picture. They look great, but every time I’m pulling an all-nighter to finish up and get them out, I curse myself for taking on such a labor intensive task! Now that it’s just about done, it all seems worth it, so I’ll probably do it again next time.... But truly, I’d do anything for those folks who pre-ordered my CD. What a leap of faith!

Thanks to Austin Music Foundation for putting on a great workshop with Berkelee College of Music Songwriting instructor Pat Pattison last Monday. I like the one book I have of his, but I wasn’t sure what I would get out of a couple of hours of him talking about songwriting. But it was amazing and so inspiring! I totally recommend taking a workshop or class with him if you want to learn how to write better songs. I went home and worked for a couple more hours generating ideas and images for a couple different songs. I also had a fun co-writing session with the awesome Elizabeth McQueen, AND some other songwriter friends started a monthly title challenge group, so the universe seems to be conspiring to help me writer more and better. I’ll take it!

My flight is boarding. See you at baggage claim.