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.


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



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.


EverBank Field in Jacksonville, FL (2010)

Go Dawgs.

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


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.


Maker’s Mark Loretta, Kentucky

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

Second verse, not exactly same as the first…

I have grown accustomed to two Sunday morning services, likely due to the fact that I’ve experienced two Sunday services every week for several years now. The second service has served various purposes for me… like the times I find myself working and/or pre-occupied with various things at different times throughout the services, and a second go ’round gives me a chance to catch things I’ve missed (like various points in the sermon). Also, I love hearing our band, and a second service is just that much more of them. But sometimes, I am thankful for the second service because it gives us a chance to fix things that may have gone awry in the first service.

Yesterday, for a small handful of us, this was the case. In live-syncing parts of our services, we often use a timer to keep two separate locations tracking together. I’ve blogged about the starting timer and how important that is, but we often also use a timer during other parts of the service. The most common timer incident is when one room exceeds the timer (which has the possibility of making things in the Other Room a bit awkward waiting for them), but yesterday our room finished up early. Like four minutes early. Like the Other-Room-had-just-started-their-last-song-as-our-room-finished-that-song early.

I’ve mentioned before that thirty seconds might not seem like a long time… unless you’re counting seconds (and Nothing is happening when ideally Something should be happening). So four minutes felt interminable to me… and to the band on stage, not to mention things on the production side were less than smooth. As with many of these situations, it was noticeable for just a small number of folks (hopefully), but thanks to the built-in grace of the Second Service, we got a do-over. And in that service, both rooms ended at appropriate times relative to their timers, and nothing painfully awkward happened! Thanks, Second Service!

Not procrastinating!

My birthday was earlier this week. In the category of “Birthday Celebration,” I had an excess of calories, quality time with amazing friends, and a great weekend. All of these things combined to make my faux 27th birthday pretty awesome.

As another conference is here, I was prepared to head to Columbia, South Carolina tonight (en route to Charleston for the conference tomorrow) to visit with some friends. However, crazy weather thwarted my plans, and I’ll leave early tomorrow morning instead.

Here’s the Thing about that. I was prepared to leave my house today at 5:00 p.m., which means my paper was in an acceptable state, the prezi was completed (but for a few tweaks), and I was all packed for the trip. Which means I have nothing to procrastinate tonight (well, except for that whole Writing a Dissertation thing), and it’s kinda strange. Which means that I’m blogging, revising the paper, and obsessively tweaking the prezi.

Maybe I should unpack and re-pack at 2:00 a.m. tonight just to make it seem like a regular trip…

My Old Kentucky Home…

I meant to post this on Monday as a post-Sunday post, but Monday was Christmas Eve and I was doing Christmas Eve-y things, like hanging out with friends (“old” friends – ones that I’ve known for as long as I can remember), watching Christmas movies, and going to church. And then, of course, Tuesday was Christmas, which was full of Christmas-y things like family and presents and food and naps. So here it is Wednesday (technically early Thursday) and I remembered that I never posted this. So here it is, a bit late!

Sunday was the fifth Sunday this year that I wasn’t at my church (last year, I missed six!). I always hate being away, but was glad to receive communications that all went well. On the flip side, I’m thrilled to be at home with my family in Kentucky. I attended church with my family, and ended up playing the piano for their services. This is a small church (a very small church compared to the one I regularly attend and blog about), so I walked in a few minutes before the service, met with the song leader, and we picked the songs for the morning service.

You may recall that my Least Favorite Christmas Song is “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” and is generally banned not part of our Christmas song rotation at church. Thus, I’ve made it three weeks into December without having to deal with the LFCS. This morning, as we discussed the options for the service (mostly Christmas songs), I was thinking about what to say if The Song came up. Thankfully, it didn’t.

A hymnal! A piano! Oh my!

A hymnal! A piano! Oh my!

However, I played the evening service, too, and the LFCS was suggested. For a brief moment, I considered going along with it. And then I came to my senses. I made some innocuous comment about not feeling comfortable playing the song (technically, that’s true) and suggested another. The song leader acquiesced, and all was well!

I’ve made a new tradition of attending a late night Christmas Eve service at a fancy church in town, and this year was no different. Thankfully, they used “Forest Green” again, so I can officially declare this year “O Little Town of Bethlehem” free.

Merry Christmas (and now Happy Boxing Day), y’all!

Face to face

For only the third or fourth time in the past year, I found myself sitting across the table from Advisor last night. She’s in town to take care of few things at her house before she and her family move back, and so we met for dinner.

It was a lovely time of chatting and catching up. I heard a lot about her (many) projects (books, edited collection, what have you), all the things she’s been up to, and her (numerous) plans for this upcoming year. Impressive, incredibly interesting, and more than enough to remind me that I’m an academic slacker right now (and/or might call me to question my commitment to academia, but I suppose that’s a post for another day).

Of course, since I haven’t seen or talked to her in a while, I had a few things to report, was reminded of all the Other Things I need to do before I leave town this weekend, and tried not to panic. All the while, the tone of this meeting was nice and relaxed and congenial. And even though this nice tone actually made me a little anxious (guilt much?), the only reference to the Work ahead of me was a brief discussion of getting For Serious about the Dissertation come Fall; including things like the dissertation being my job, establishing a writing schedule, and transcribing all these interviews….

But for now, it’s summertime, I’m going to Chicago this weekend, and I have lots to do!