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.

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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.

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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.
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Oh, hey there!

I think it’s safe to say things have been slow here at the blog. A long time ago, I started a post-SXSW post, but… didn’t finish it. Good story, right? It seems dumb to recap all of that in detail now since it was so long ago, but some pics/highlights are below.

***Regarding the Talkable Vegetables, you can watch a video here.

Upon returning from South By, things got hectic fast. I know I have been way busier other times in my adult life, but for some reason, the second half of this semester seemed more challenging. Maybe it’s because I’m an old lady, or maybe it’s because I’m still recovering from the dissertation.1  In any event, everything pretty much wrapped up this past weekend, and I’m glad. Also, there’s still a hole in my ceiling, which will hopefully be repaired in the next year month.

In addition to the ceiling, I have one more project to complete that I’ve been putting off for months. Of course, my plan was to knock that out tonight, which is why I’m blogging (er, professional procrastinator, anyone?). ICMC is at the end of the month, and I’ll also head up to Kentucky to see the Very Tall Nephew graduate from high school (!!!). After that, it will be the first summer in many years that I won’t have degree-required academic work to do.

I can’t wait.


1. It is just as likely that Kentucky’s loss to Wisconsin in the Final Four was to blame. Sigh. Go Cats.

One more time…

I did not get around to posting on this year’s compsiversary… partly because the game was just awful (like REALLY awful), but also because I found it slightly depressing that we’re at the FOURTH freaking compsiversary and I STILL DON’T HAVE A PHD. Yes, I know. It’s all very close and all that. BUT REALLY. It’s been FOUR YEARS since I completed comps… and I don’t have a PHD. You get the idea.

In happier news, I’m heading to Puerto Rico (again) on Tuesday for NWSA. I intend to be a part of a roundtable on women and/in music, attend the keynote address featuring bell hooks, and spend the rest of the time on the beach & hopefully taking an official tour of something or other.1 

In less happier but very necessary news, my defense is scheduled for the following Monday morning… at 8 a.m.2  You have no idea how happy I will be when this is over. Unless I fail, and then I will just be very sad… like way more sad than this:

But let’s not think of such things right now. I should probably go write things for the conference next week, and/or work on my presentation for the defense. And think happy thoughts about scenes like this one 🙂

View from the Malecon Esperanza

View from the Malecon Esperanza


1. To the great surprise of no one, I have not finished my paper/presentation for this conference. We present on Thursday, so there’s plenty of time!

2. I will never not link to the McSweeney’s “Snake Fight” essay when discussing my defense. I find it hilarious, and frighteningly apropos of many aspects of grad school. Also, if you know me at all, I clearly, clearly did not choose the time for this snake fight.

Back to Chicago (plus, a random guy discounts my research!)

I went to Chicago last week. It had been over a year since I visited the city, so I was very glad to be back. The purpose of this trip was to attend the American Music Festival at FitzGerald’s Nightclub in Berwyn. I’ve been before, and it’s a really great festival – and this year, several Bloodshot bands played to celebrate the record label’s 20th anniversary. It wasn’t the only 20th anniversary event, and it won’t be the last, but it was certainly a great excuse to get back to the city.

I got to see friends (thanks as always to the wonderful folks who let me stay with them–and their ridiculously cute one-year-old), and I managed to spend some time wandering around downtown. I ate at a couple of my favorite vegetarian restaurants – Pick Me Up Cafe and Handlebar. Even though I had a definite plan to eat lunch at the Chicago Diner, I planned rather poorly and ended up not making it (which only means I can’t wait a full year before I visit Chicago again!). Oh, and I also did some research/follow up work at the Chicago Public Library.

The trip was fun, productive, and tiring, but I have to share one particular story, if only because of its absurdity. The short version is that I had a complete stranger (older, male) discount my dissertation and research after hearing approximately five sentences about it. His general take on my work was, “That’s not gonna cut it. That’s just not gonna work for you.”

As I was in Chicago at a music festival devoted to American music when this conversation took place, I initially thought for a moment that I was being schooled by a senior scholar in musicology or ethnomusicology from a Chicago institution. As this person continued to speak, I realized he was not in my field, but was likely in a related academic field, such as history or anthropology. But then he kept talking. And then I asked him point blank, and he told me, no, he was not a PhD, nor was he in academia. After I told him Advisor was in disagreement with him about my work “cutting it,” as it were, not to mention my committee, he said, “That’s just one person’s opinion – or just a few people… it’s really not gonna cut it. You’ve really got to do more.” At this point, I replied, “It seems you don’t know how folks go about getting PhD’s. I really would like to pay attention to this band now.”

So, basically, I had my dissertation mansplained to me by a person who was not an academic AT ALL. He was not a musician, nor was he really familiar with Bloodshot, alt.country, or country music, or even academia. After I walked away, I had at least 80,000 other wonderful and witty and clever things that came to mind that I wish I had said to him. And of course, I wondered why in heavens I even spoke with him for as along as I did.

In any event, I’m glad that guy’s not on my committee.

 

Home sweet… madness?

The past two weeks have been full. I have driven over 3000 miles, been in seven different states (Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, and of course, Georgia), and have seen over 25 bands play live, including the one and only George Strait last night. I also presented at a regional musicology conference, and somehow managed to work all of my jobs a few days here and there in between.1 

In the meantime, it’s one of my most favorite times of the year: March Madness! It’s when I find myself doing research on schools like Wofford and North Dakota State (and not because they have a musicology job opening), and of course, cheering on the ‘Cats!2  Typically, I watch a great deal of college basketball throughout the season; I usually watch every Kentucky game, but I also generally ‘keep up’ with the top 25. This year? Er, not so much. The whole dissertation thing really put a damper on my basketball watching, so I did quite a bit of guessing last-minute research for my bracket.

In any event, I’m quite glad to be home, and tired more than sums it up. I hope to post a couple of SXSW recaps in the near future… but first I have to work on the dissertation.


1. This sort of includes the most pressing of jobs these days: writing the dissertation. The conference paper was taken from the Very Difficult (to write and organize) Chapter, so in revising and revising and revising the conference paper and presentation, I was basically working on the chapter. See? Sort of.


2. I can’t remember a better, more stressful Kentucky game than the one I just watched/endured.

Christmas vacation so far…

After much procrastinating, days ago I sent Advisor another (slightly incomplete) chapter draft… and left the state. I’m back at my old Kentucky home for a few days, and have had nary a thought of the dissertation.1 Of course, this trip home has been a little/a lot sad, and although Christmas was lovely, at times it was also sad. We did something totally different and ate our Christmas dinner at a Chinese buffet, which actually made me pretty happy.

In any event, I have spent time with family, read a couple of novels, caught up with friends, and well, done a great deal of nothing….

For example, I met a new game.

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I like this game a lot.2 The design is so lovely – simple and clean – and the game itself is incredibly simple… so of course, I’m hooked. I fear our relationship has been doomed from the start (much like this one), but I’ll enjoy the time we have together on vacation.

I’ve seen quite a few basketball games.

I watched the Very Tall Nephew play a couple of games, one of Younger Nephew’s games, their school’s girls team game, and a UK Hoops (the women’s basketball team) game. Since much of the men’s Kentucky-Louisville game happened during one of the Very Tall Nephew’s game, I watched some of that game on my phone.3 

Finally, I’ve been working on a really difficult 1000-piece puzzle.

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The Very Tall Nephew’s girlfriend gave this puzzle to Younger Nephew, but it has been claimed primarily by me and the VTN’s girlfriend (and her sister).4 I have every intention of completing it before leaving the state.

Clearly, I need to stop typing and get back to Dots, or the puzzle, or maybe watching some basketball, so happy sixth day of Christmas, y’all!


1. This does not take into account the requisite Dissertation Guilt. See this comic.
2. Apparently, I’m not the only one, according to this article by Craig Kannalley.
3. OBVIOUSLY, I paid attention to the Very Tall Nephew’s game, too, although it helped greatly that his team was winning by many points for the entire game.
4. The puzzle is a Coke bottle, but the actual image is made up of thousands of tiny pictures of Coke related things.

I fail! I win!

I still haven’t finished the next chapter draft, but I’m close. I’ve been using 750words.com and after 2.75 months, I’ve finally broken 100 points (the points reset every month).

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The X’s mean I wrote at least 750 words that day. The /’s mean I wrote something, but didn’t make it to 750 words. And the empty boxes mean I was at Tybee with friends in the middle of the month.

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Every photo needs a lighthouse in it.

Considering 270 is the most points I could have gotten this month, 106 is beyond a failing grade. But considering the score is calculated kinda like a bowling score, I’m going to focus on the part where I wrote for 77% of the days.

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Yes, some of my words were rambling. Yes, some of my words were to do lists. BUT, I always get around to writing something related to the dissertation and my research every time I’m at 750words.com, which guarantees I’m at least actively thinking thoughts about it most days. Most of the time, I end up moving anything worthwhile to a word doc and continue writing… and since the points don’t matter (like on that one really funny show that’s now BACK ON), I have a chance to shoot for a passing grade this month.

Finally, in the category of professional procrastinator, I bought some fold over elastic and made some hair ties. 36 to be exact. And thanks to the wonders of ebay, I’m a winner! I just won another batch of many colors of elastic, and will promptly make MORE hair ties when that shipment arrives!

Not exactly research nor writing related...

Not exactly research nor writing related…