Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Out of Tenn

I'm trying to live as though traveling to New York or Boston for one night is no big deal. It's hard to suck it up and drive or sit on the train for hours just to see a show, but I know in the long run it's good for me. I need to stay connected to that city energy and see great live music. So last night I trekked to Boston for the Ten Out of Tenn show at Cafe 939 at Berkelee College. It's ten Nashville based songwriters touring together on Willie Nelson's old bus.

I only knew the music of a couple of the artists and I had heard of a couple of the others, but at least 6 of the artists were new to me, and I didn't know what to expect from the night. Especially since I don't generally consider myself a big fan of 'indie-pop." But about 3 songs in to the show, I remembered that every time I go out the see music in Nashville, even if it's a friend of a friend who's music is in some style I don't think I like, I'm always impressed. The level of musicianship and writing is just so great in that town, just about everything sounds good.

What I thought was going to be a loose jam by a bunch of songwriters was actually a tightly arranged band with a rotating cast of musicians held together by the solid drumming of Will Sayles. Each of the "ten" took a couple of turns at the center mic, leading the band in their songs, but then they'd scoot over to a keyboard or trade off guitar for bass and sing some harmonies. The sound was surprisingly consistent, even though each songwriter's personality came through clearly. Everyone seemed to be having a great time and the whole show had an after-school-special/Fat Albert kind of feel to it. Only these hopeful kids can really play, and from the looks of their bios and the slick TOT website, they know how to manage their own careers, too. I bought "the bundle" that included one of each of their CDs, plus the latest TOT compilation, which was only $50.

Sarah Siskind and Ashley Monroe were probably my favorites, probably because they were the more Americana part of the show and they both have such interesting voices. Madi Diaz was a Berkelee grad with lots of fans in the crowd and I really liked her, too. I wouldn't be surprised if one of her songs becomes a Fiest-y kind of indie hit. I didn't love Jedd Hughes' songs at the show, mostly because they were so loud and I couldn't hear the lyrics, but his EP is great and I'm sure I'll play it lots and try to see him again.

So worth the drive to Boston. And I was home by 1:30am. No big deal, that's how I roll.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Falling into place

I gotta say, I'm happy to be home. And by home, I do mean the Berkshires. If you read this blog, you know that's a big deal.

It's not just because of my own bed and kitchen and my love. It's because little chipmunks scamper across the trail when I go running. My garden really needs weeding and the compost needs to be turned. There is a nip in the air that is kind of exciting because I haven't felt a real Fall in 7 years. There are apples to be picked and sweaters to be knitted.

I'd gotten really good at not caring about all these things, maybe because they aren't my favorite things ever and maybe because I just couldn't have them in Texas. But now they are here and I've got them, so I'm going to enjoy this first Autumn as best I can.

Monday, September 7, 2009

I'm snuggled into a lavender bed at The Ginn Parents' house in rural Texas after a super-relaxing Labor Day Weekend. I've been in Austin for a couple days, then I was camping and singing and catching up with friends at the Kerrville Wine and Music Festival. And I'm happy to be in Texas, to be hot, to eat BBQ and drink Shiner Bock and be lazy in a hammock under Live Oak trees, to know my way around and to run into people I know when I'm not even trying to.

But it's not as hard as it was last time. Last time, it was so good and so different from my new life, that it made me sad to be so happy and content when I came back to visit. Now I'm much more relaxed. Maybe because I haven't lost touch with people (thanks Facebook!). My favorite places are still here, and I know I'm going to be back in a couple months. So I can just enjoy this place for what it is, instead of what the rest of my life isn't.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Hate Not

Derek Sivers is a very cool guy with lots of good ideas about all sorts of things. I met him as the creator of the awesome online music store CDBaby. In his blog last week, he asked the question "What do you hate not doing?" as a way to figure out what you really love. You know I love self-help and quizes, so here are a few things I hate not doing. I'm not sure I like the idea of writing a whole blog about hate, but here goes.

I hate not performing.
Not only because I feel terribly off when I do come back to it, but because I miss connecting with people through music. I miss the challenge of choosing the right songs for the situation and hitting the right emotional tone with each performance. I miss working out my lungs and vocal chords and calluses. And I miss the attention. Can't deny that. :)

I hate not writing.
I hate that I let days, weeks, even months go by without cracking open my journal. That's the place where I let it fly without a filter and it really calms me down and gets me focused. I also hate not writing songs. Songwriting is when I take all my crazy ideas and experiences and shape them into a neat little package and summarize all my feelings about something. Sometimes it's closure, sometimes it's a manifesto. Either way, I feel more settled when a song is finished, and excited to get out there and play it for people. I hate not having a new song to share.

I hate not having balance in my social vs. alone time.
Spending says on end with people, even people I love, even when I'm having a great time, leaves me feeling so scattered. I'm very influenced by others' desires and opinions, so I tend to lose center and follow the crowd when I don't get time alone. On the other hand, I hate being alone too much. I get into boring patterns and I do stupid things like watch hours of TV or play video games when I've got too much time alone. I like having other people around me to bring up new ideas, hold me accountable and be a witness, so I won't eat the whole carton of ice cream. Lately I've been having long spates of alone time, followed by intense visits. Whew! I need balance. I'm such a Libra.

I hate staying in the same place for too long.
Even if it's just walking down a different side street. I need new sights and smells and sounds coming at me. I think I travel enough for this not to be much of a problem. :)

I hate not exercising and eating right.
Because when I do, I feel better. When I don't I feel sluggish and guilty. Hate isn't too strong a word for that feeling.

I hate not asking questions.
I'm a curious person and I wonder about a lot of different things. Sometimes I don't like this about myself, because before I have time to really delve into something, I invariably get curious about something new. But I love the beginnings of projects. I love going to a new town and learning it's history, it's local hangouts. Everything is interesting for a little while. And I hate when I'm doing the same old same old over and over again and not exploring some new business idea or region of the country.

Allright, now what did this little exercise teach me? The best lesson is that all the things I hate not doing are things I mostly get to do all the time! That's good. And when I'm not doing them it's usually because I'm being scared or lazy. So the next time I don't want to go for a run or spend an hour on booking or introduce myself to a new friend, I'm going to think "You'll hate it if you don't do this!" Maybe that will get me going.

Now I want to know what you hate not doing. Maybe this is the next "50 things"....