Trade-offs

Something that I’ve come to terms with as an adult is that life is often about trade-offs. The freedom of (single, childless) adulthood is awesome, but often it comes at a cost. That is, awesome things regularly require an exchange for something not-so-awesome. The catch is knowing what the trade will be going into the situation, and accepting the terms. Time? Money? Relationships? Fun? Sleep? You gotta know what currency (and amount) are you willing to pay for the awesome thing!

As I mentioned in my last post (two in two weeks!), the benefit of having my four jobs is flexibility, while the downside is making up work and/or not getting paid. Next week, I’ll head up to Nashville for the Americana Music Festival, where I’ll get to see a ton of great live music, see a bunch of awesome people, and also help out with the Backyard Bash (sponsored by Bloodshot & Pandora).

I’m super excited about this, but it also means that at well past midnight on a weeknight, I’m putting together an online quiz for some of my Music Appreciation classes.1  

img_5217.jpg
However, it also means that I get to email (and receive email from) some really cool musician-types about the party next week.

I am totally willing to trade my “free time” to do work right now (even though it’s a little bit stressful, and honestly, annoying, and really, I’d much rather be in bed…) for the fun and freedom of heading to AMA next week. It’s an adult thing, I guess.


1. It also probably has to do with the fact that I have been known to put things off until, well, later.

Advertisements

SXSW, Take 5

I started this SXSW recap WAY back in March… like, in a very timely manner. Good intentions and all that… but I’m still a procrastinator at heart. So as I gear up for my second AmericanaFest with Bloodshot in September, let’s throw it back to March.

2017 marked the the FIFTH time I’ve been to SXSW! Fifth. As in, five years.

Like last year, I opted to go wristband-less; unlike last year, I was not showered with gifts and love by Airbnb.1  Instead, I was greatly concerned about transportation since Uber & Lyft were voted out of Austin this past year. Thankfully, many companies have stepped into the ride-sharing vacuum, and for the most part, I was able to get around town without any trouble.

The awesome thing about having four part time jobs is that there is a great deal of flexibility in one’s schedule. The downside is that you generally have to make up anything you miss, and/or you don’t get paid. This means, I opted to teach my Tuesday morning class and stress myself out getting to the airport on time for my flight. I made my flight, and got to Austin (via St. Louis) in time to catch a few things Tuesday afternoon/evening. And then, the week was in full swing.

The basic components of my schedule are now standard, including the Bloodshot showcase at the Continental Club on Wednesday, the TwangFest/KDHX Day Party at the Broken Spoke on Thursday, and Bloodshot’s Yard Dog Day Party on Friday… and whatever else I can get to in-between and around all that. This year, I was pretty pleased with the “in-between” stuff I managed to get to.

  • Tuesday
    • Ha Ha Tonka at the Back Alley Bash by Tequila Mockingbird
    • Jon Langford & the Far Forlorn at the White Horse; I caught a few songs by Corinne Rose before Jon went on.
    • Roky Erikson at (Historic) Scoot Inn2 
  • Wednesday
    • I finally made it to one of the best restaurants in the world: Bouldin Creek Cafe. And then headed to El Mercado to catch Whitney Rose & Sunny Sweeney. They’re both great, but I loved Sunny Sweeney.
    • From there I landed at a super hip coffee shop, Seventh Flag Coffee, to get some work done (including filling out my brackets).
    • The Bloodshot showcase featured: Sarah Shook & the Disarmers, Ha Ha Tonka, Banditos, The Yawpers, Scott H. Biram, and of course, the Waco Brothers. The Wacos played well past 2 a.m., and folks were still there and totally into it
  • Thursday
    • I need to just come to terms with the fact that I will never see the opening bands (or more) at the TwangFest/KDHX Day Party at the Broken Spoke. This year, I missed Patrick Sweany, Ha Ha Tonka, and High Plains Jamboree, but DID catch Sarah Shook & the Disarmers, Band of Heathens (although I wasn’t entirely paying attention to their set, because food…), Secret Sisters, and Lillie Mae.
    • I left the Broken Spoke and booked it over to Yard Dog to catch a solo Cory Branan set, and then I made my way to the Saxon Pub to catch a band called Churchwood, and to interview Bill Anderson, who happens to play in that band, but was also in the Bloodshot band, the Meat Purveyors. I interviewed Bill, on the record, and then after some much need late-night food, headed home.
  • Friday
    • The Bloodshot Yard Dog party start with Zach Schmidt (Nashville-based guy, cute, and charming as heck), followed by The Yawpers, Ha Ha Tonka, Sarah Shook & the Disarmers, Cory Branan, Banditos, and last, but certainly not least, the Waco Brothers.
    • After a quick stop at Guero’s, we headed to the New West showcase at Cooper’s BBQ, and caught Sara Watkins, the Deslondes, Andrew Combs, and Aaron Lee Tasjan.3 

A few items of note….

Sarah Shook & the Disarmers are the most recent band (at the time) added to the Bloodshot family. And they are great. I met Sarah in Nashville at AmericanaFest, and though I didn’t hear her play then, she was highly recommended by a friend & former Bloodshot employee, so I took his word on things. He was right.

I always meet new folks during this week, and this year, I met a few people with connections to Bloodshot, and a couple of gals who are good contacts for my academic and scholarly pursuits. But I also got to hang out with all my Austin pals, and got to share some music & a drink with folks that I know from ICMC!

South by generally affords a few (or more) wild and crazy moments, (of varying degrees). This year was no exception. For instance, I found myself in the backseat of a car with Jon Langford (which is exciting in and of itself, and no, we were not making out; but I’d totally support that rumor…) listening to a track off his upcoming album (Four Lost Souls recorded in Muscle Shoals) from his iPhone.

As an old lady, it is inevitable that at some point I find myself thinking that SXSW might not be worth it and/or I’m just too old for it. But of course, looking back at the great music I experienced throughout the week, along with all the folks I get to hang out with… I’m guessing you’ll find a similar recap here next year.


1. I did have a heck of a time booking a place to stay, including TEN confirmed bookings & NINE cancellations via Airbnb, but that’s another story for another blog post… one that likely won’t get written.
2. I was only vaguely familiar with Roky, but it was pretty cool to see him perform at this super cool and historic venue.
3. I admit that due to being an old lady, I left before Aaron’s set was finished. However, I managed to catch him playing in Athens at the 40 Watt in a New West Athfest kickoff show. I was greatly disappointed that he was not wearing a cape at the 40 Watt show.

IMG_4445

Aaron Lee Tasjan sans cape/fancy suit at the 40 Watt

Win some, lose some…

I have many things to grade, and one final to revise, so this is the perfect time to blog! A few days ago, I stopped by Trader Joe’s, and just as I could not resist the $.89 tiny gourds in October, the tiny, glitter poinsettias called my name. I bought two. Here’s where we are today:

Trust me when I say that I have treated these little plants with equal (moderate-to-low levels of) commitment. But clearly, the results are varied: one is thriving and has even grown new leaves; the other is dying a rather quick death. I’m only a little bummed because these cost a bit more than $.89, but I can’t be too sad, since at least one of them is doing so well.

See also: teaching college students…1 

I gave a final this morning, and as a student turned in her exam, she said, “I have thoroughly enjoyed being in your class this semester. Thanks for caring about music and caring about us.” It was one of those moments that make me so thankful to get the opportunity to teach college kids about music/culture/history.

Likely around the same time that this was happening, I received an email from another student in another class, stating, “hey, what’s this Mozart composer guy. there’s like at least two or something. ???” It was one of those moments that make me question my life choices, while simultaneously inspiring rage and maniacal laughter.

This sort of feedback is just beginning, so let’s all hope that stories like the former are more prominent than the latter. Happy finals week, folks!


1. Please note that I exert at least a moderate-to-high level of commitment to my students. Er, most of the time.

Compsiversary!

Six years ago, I was with my friend (referred to as Violin Doctor in blog posts past) in Jacksonville, sitting in EverBank field watching the pre-game festivities for the Georgia-Florida game.

On a late Thursday evening/early Friday morning, I finished my second comps essay, and emailed it to Professor (who happened to already be in Jacksonville for the game), and commenced with packing. Violin Doctor picked me up Friday morning, and after a few minutes on the road, I realized I had forgotten my ticket at home. We turned around and tried again.

After (eventually) arriving in Jacksonville, two things stand out (as I have mentioned previously): I had to write a proposal for ICMC that night, and the guacamole at Cantina Laredo was amazing. That year’s game? Eh, not so much. But the series did take a turn for the better after that year.

So much has changed since 2010; Dad’s death in 2013 by far outweighs even my long-awaited graduation. I still don’t have the full-time tenure-track job that I assumed would be mine by this point… But life isn’t just about jobs, and I have experienced an abundance of grace and love (and more sleep, and provision) since comps way back when, and for that, I can only be glad.

IMG_0377

EverBank Field in Jacksonville, FL (2010)

Go Dawgs.

Another year, another South by


Since I have all but abandoned the blog, I’m not sure why I feel so compelled to post an update of my most recent and fourth SXSW experience.1  But I do. And it appears to be happening.

Perhaps it’s because I feel like I’ve got the South-by thing down now, and I want to brag about it. Or maybe it has to do with my crazy experience with Airbnb that resulted in me realizing a company can totally buy my love (through great customer service and well, buying me stuff). Or possibly because this was the year I felt most like an insider & realized how many people I know only through this annual trek to Austin. Likely, it’s all those things, along with the fact that I should be writing a conference paper.2 

This was the first year I went without a wristband of any sort, and the second time I did not rent a car. I did not miss the wristband at all, and thanks to a $50 Lyft credit that was available to new users during SXSW, I spent around $90 in transportation (including getting to/from the airport). Last year, I got a great deal on my car rental, but with the rental fees plus parking fees, I spent over $300. Even without the Lyft credit, $140 is way more manageable than $300!

I booked my Airbnb & flight pretty early this year, and was SO pleased with myself – great deals & a great location! And then… at the sort of last minute, my Airbnb host cancelled on me. Like any good disgruntled customer, I tweeted about it & tagged @Airbnb. Nearly immediately, Airbnb customer service contacted me via Twitter, email, and a phone call. They offered to find me a replacement place, but as soon as I could, I started searching for another place & eventually found something pretty close to my price range, and in an OK neighborhood. Airbnb customer service followed up again, covered the price difference between the two bookings, and then gave me a $100 credit towards my next Airbnb. They also had a gift bag waiting for me at my place when I arrived in Austin, gave me $200 towards a pair of boots at Allens Boots, and a free two-stepping lesson at the White Horse. Consider my satisfaction and love bought, Airbnb.

Enough of all that – how’s about the music?!? For the past couple of years, my South-by plan has been go to all the Bloodshot things I can, and then hit anything else, if possible. This year, I did the following (pics to follow):

  • Tuesday
    • El Mercado3  for James McMurtry, Robbie Fulks, and the Grahams
    • A bit of the Swollen Circus at the Continental Club
  • Wednesday
    • Gingerman for the Blurt showcase, including Freedy Johnston, Brett Harris, Robbie Fulks, and the Supersuckers
    • Continental Club for the Bloodshot Records showcase, including Al Scorch, Banditos, Yawpers, Lydia Loveless, and the Waco Brothers
  • Thursday
    • Broken Spoke for (the last song by the Wacos), Luke Winslow-King, Robbie Fulks, and Corb Lund
    • Gingerman for the Wacos, Banditos, it’s not true to say I really paid attention to Churchwood, but I certainly heard some of their stuff, and a song or two by Bad Luck Jonathan
    • Thursday night, I may have gone to watch the UK-Stoneybrook basketball game & made friends with some folks from Kentucky who now live in Austin.

And of course, Friday was the Bloodshot Yard Dog party, with Possessed by Paul James, Rosie Flores, Robbie Fulks, Luke Winslow-King, Lydia Loveless, Al Scorch, Banditos, the Yawpers, and, of course, the Waco Brothers.

Some general thoughts? Any time the Wacos play it’s a blast, and I’m continually amazed that Jon Langford always remembers me. I saw Robbie play a solo show, but the rest of the time, he was playing with a full band, including pedal steel, and it was all awesome. The Yawpers are crazy. Like, seriously crazy, and you need to see them live. Al Scorch, another new Bloodshot signee, is just as charming as heck. The Banditos have gotten even better since I last saw them. At Ginger Man, when they played their cover of “I Put a Spell on You,” Mary Beth ended up singing on a table in the middle of the crowd, and we were basically all dead. It was possibly one of the best live songs I’ve ever seen.

IMG_1360

Here’s a version, if you’re curious, but that day at Ginger Man was way better. I promise.

Finally, when I saw the Supersuckers play at Ginger Man, I noticed their bass player looked a lot like Danny, the bass player for Banditos (or Danny looked a lot like him). When I heard that the Supersuckers had been added to the guest list at the Continental for the Bloodshot Showcase that night, I knew what I had to do. I put a few folks on the lookout, and managed to snag a photo. It was as awkward as you’re thinking it might have been, but the guys were pretty good sports about it.

IMG_1323

And finally, finally, one of the best parts of the week was seeing all my Bloodshot pals and South-by friends.


1. My previous SXSW blog posts had been sad and sorry excuses for updates, but there are some photos. You can check them out here, here, and for my first year, here and here.

2. Yeah, you know it’s really because of that… professional procrastinator and all that.

3. You should not be surprised to know that El Mercado is a Mexican restaurant with a venue in the back.
Back to Top

Favorites bands and favorite chord progressions

My favorite band is the Old 97’s. However, Freakwater would also be an honest answer (as would Gillian Welch). I can thank a super cool friend from high school for introducing me to the Old 97’s, a Bloodshot compilation for introducing me to Freakwater, while one of my college roommates properly introduced me to Gillian Welch.1  

A (not very good) photo of Catherine Irwin & Janet Bean from a Freakwater show in Atlanta (November 2005, I don't remember the venue)

A (not very good) photo of Catherine Irwin & Janet Bean from a Freakwater show in Atlanta (November 2005, I don’t remember the venue)

Freakwater appeared on Bloodshot’s first compilation album (way back in 1994), and subsequently was on Thrill Jockey for years. BUT coming in February 2016, according to the Freakwater Facebook page, “We will be releasing our eighth studio album this fall with our dear friends Bloodshot Records!!” So… since I wrote a dissertation on Bloodshot Records and all, and what with loving Freakwater, I’m really, really, REALLY excited about this.2   As Bloodshot noted today, you may have thought that Freakwater was already on Bloodshot, but this upcoming studio album is, in fact, the band’s first with the record label. You can hear the first single from the album here, and you can pre-order the album and/or get the 7″ single here.

The announcement of this single inspired me to listen to pretty much the entire Freakwater catalogue throughout the day today. As I listened to the song “Cricket Versus Ant” (Thinking of You, 2005), I was reminded of my most favorite chord progression, which is in this song: V/vi – vi, or III – vi, or a major three chord to the minor six. This song is in D Major, so the chord progression is F-sharp major to b minor. The first time it happens, the lyrics are “If it all goes terribly wrong” at 1:27 in the video below.

I have done absolutely no research on this progression; I just know that I always love it when it happens. I think I first noticed it when I had to play chord progression for a piano proficiency exam or something equally dorky, but I remember first LOVING when I heard it in a Dixie Chicks song, “Tonight the Heartache’s on Me” (Wide Open Spaces, 1998).3   This song is in F Major, and in this case, the magical chords are A major to d minor in the chorus. The first time it happens, the lyrics are “Bartender, pour the wine” at 0:47 in the video below.

Isn’t it great? Sure, there are other secondary dominants that are nice, but this one is by far my favorite (and the best). Hooray for a new Freakwater album & hooray for V/vi – vi! Feel free to share examples with me!


1. The same high school friend likely introduced me to Bloodshot, or at least I was with her at CD Central (a fantastic record store in Lexington, KY) when I bought that compilation album.

2. At this point, I’m probably more excited about the album, rather than the research possibilities, but that’s a topic for another post.

3. This is the first song I look for if/when I ever karaoke. Seriously. Feel free to judge me.

I’ve had a PhD for ten months. Now what?

IMG_0487

Smith’s Cove Grand Cayman Island

I haven’t written anything in quite a while – unless you count tweets or incredibly witty & clever captions for photos posted on social media.1   I finished my PhD nearly ten months ago, and have absolutely no interest in writing any words or furthering my research – unless you count listening to Bloodshot bands, which I’m totally still into. I have applied for many academic jobs (and continue to do so), though I find myself lacking the wherewithal to really care about them. In fact, the sole reason that I’m blogging at this moment is to avoid the ten tabs open in Safari representing ten jobs I qualify for and should apply to.

I cannot decipher if my apathy is related to a) the post-dissertation/graduation slump, b) I really don’t care all that much about musicology and the somewhat insular world it represents anymore, or c) the chances of getting an actual musicology job are slim for me. Certainly, it’s a combination of these things, although the latter is a certain reality. I have seen many of my (infinitely more talented & awesome) friends deal with the academic job market for years with little to no success, while also witnessing several awesome folks choosing non-academic jobs. Yeah, I know. I’m still less than one year out, and it’s too early to be giving up on the job market/academic job possibility. But, it would be stupid to not consider the option.

Since I graduated way back in December, I have been teaching music appreciation at a community college, teaching piano lessons, and working my church job. Along with some gigs here and there, I am financially fine – making the least amount of money I’ve made in my adult life, but I can pay my bills and then some; and I’m pretty sure I can continue this trajectory indefinitely (Lord willing, as we say). What I’m wrestling with is what I’m going to be when I grow up.2   I really enjoy teaching college classes, and that’s what I thought I’d be doing – as a full-time instructor/professor. I’m really good at a lot of things, but my CV, experience, and nearly nonexistent publishing record don’t make me an outstanding candidate for many academic jobs. So perhaps the moral of the story is that, for now, I should simply appreciate the fact that I am making a living doing music-y things. And I should probably apply for the jobs sitting in all the surrounding open tabs here.


1. I went to Grand Cayman to visit a friend in July, and as that photo indicates, it was beautiful. I also visited a few distilleries on the Bourbon Trail back in May. I wouldn’t mind going back to these places.

IMG_0002

Maker’s Mark Loretta, Kentucky


2. This is supposed to be ironic or maybe funny. By most accounts, I’m an old lady.