Moving updates

 

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The Fall Faculty Workshop for all full-time faculty members

Several folks have asked about my moving plans, so I thought I’d procrastinate packing update the blog & let y’all know what’s going on!

I spent the past few days in Nashville for faculty meetings, workshops, and trainings. I’ll admit that walking into the Curb Event Center on Monday morning for the Fall Faculty Workshop was intimidating. Imposter syndrome is real, y’all. We were assigned tables, and I was with folks from marketing, pharmacy, occupational therapy, and sports science. Everyone was nice, although one of the older guys was stereotypically & entertainingly jaded and cynical (so much so that one of the other guys at the table pulled me aside and said, “This really is a great place to work.” I wanted to tell them all, “You people have no idea what it’s really like out there!”), but I digress. Once things got going, it was as exciting as you might (or might not) imagine. It also helped that I quickly saw one of my sorority sisters who has been on the faculty at Belmont for over a decade!

Day two was the College of Visual and Performing Arts “Fall Retreat,” which was a much smaller group. This event was held in the room where the International Country Music Conference is often held, and felt much more comfortable. I met several School of Music faculty, and the high point was that we sang the Doxology for the blessing for lunch. The low (but necessary, I suppose) point was the active shooter training.

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The Belmont Bell Tower and Carillon – yes, there is a musical instrument housed in this structure!

This morning was the School of Music faculty meeting. I got to meet more of my colleagues and see more of the facilities where I’ll be spending my time. There are lots of changes afoot at Belmont and specifically within the School of Music, and everyone seems (mostly) excited about all that’s going on. Also, I’m encouraged by how nice the folks are, and how competent the administrators seem. If you’ve been in any educational setting, you know how important that is.

I am in the process of signing a lease, and am excited about living in East Nashville. I definitely felt judgment from non-East Nashville folk (Belmont & Vandy are on the other side of town), but I feel good about the decision. I’ll be in very close walking distance of a couple of restaurants, and practical walking distance from Five Points.

The plan is to finish packing and tie up loose ends in the next couple of days, load up the U-Haul on Friday, get my place ready to AirBnb, and then after church on Sunday, head to Nashville with a few close friends who are helping out! If you need me in the next couple of days, I’ll be sitting on the floor in one of the rooms of my house freaking out and maybe packing.

 

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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  

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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.

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.

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

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.

Happy Friday Gratitude!

Lots of parts about graduate school pretty much suck (and by graduate school, I mean specifically a doctoral degree in the humanities). The bureaucracy, the seemingly arbitrary hoops to jump through, the reading, the writing, dealing with difficult professors, etc., this stuff just isn’t very fun. Add to that all of the woe, wailing, and teeth-gnashing regarding the job market, work loads and such, and one must wonder why anyone would subject themselves to such experiences. Well, for me, it’s the other parts that make it worthwhile, such as learning gross amounts about something that I find fascinating and compelling, the reading, the writing, dealing with brilliant professors (often the same individuals who are difficult, of course), and commiserating with folks who are equally compelled by similar interests.

As much as I would like to end up with an academic job, I have no idea if I will ever get one; but I do know that I have (mostly) enjoyed the past seven years. The actual experience of earning this degree (assuming this actually happens in August) has been worthwhile. If nothing else, I will have spent seven years of my life Thinking about, Reading about, and Writing about Music in (mostly) new and different ways, which I think is better than just about anything else I could have been doing for that time.1 

I spent a chunk of time this morning with a producer/recording engineer. We listened to an assortment of Bloodshot and non-Bloodshot tracks and talked about what they sounded like, recording and mixing techniques, and other such details. And it was great – interesting and super helpful for me.2  As I walked away from that meeting, I was reminded again of how much I like music, and how grateful I am that I get to write a ton of pages about music that I really, really love (even if the actual thinking and writing part is Really Hard). And of course, I was overwhelmed (yet again) by how nice and helpful so many folks have been to me through this whole process… and all of this on the eve of SXSW – where I will attend again as an “artist” (make that ROCK STAR, at least in terms of wristbands)! I’ll get to see more live shows than you can shake a proverbial stick at, and get my fill (and then some) of great music.3 

I’m not finished with my dissertation just yet, and I’m in a relatively challenging place in the journey right now. However, I have moments where I’m beginning to believe that I might actually one day finish the dissertation, and after that, graduate. In the dissertation, I will get to write a page of acknowledgements to thank folks and publicly proclaim my gratefulness to specific people, but for now, in the middle of a not-always-fun part, I’m pretty glad for some reminders of the fun parts.


1. Enjoy the journey, value the process, and all that… Besides, in the “real world,” when it comes down to it, wouldn’t seven years be considered a pretty good run at a job? Not sure how my committee members might view this perspective, though…


2. Here’s one of the tracks we listened to – Robbie Fulks’ “The Buck Starts Here,” from his Bloodshot Records debut, Country Love Songs (1996).


3. I absolutely cannot wait to get back to the Broken Spoke!

Guitar Slide Friday: Lead Guitar Version Redux

Athens, GA is a college town, and though my church is not in Athens, it is connected to the university community. University communities are, I suppose, by definition dynamic – undergrads complete their degrees in four years (give or take a few years), graduate students come and go, and professors find new academic positions. And as someone who has lived here for over a decade, I have seen too many dear friends leave as they move on to the next chapter in their lives.1 

Well, Lead Guitar is moving on to his next Thing (but thankfully not leaving town, whew!), and so this past Sunday was one of his last with us for the foreseeable future. I’m quite glad I’ve had the opportunity to get to know him over the years, and I will miss seeing him regularly on Tuesdays and Sundays. He’s been faithful, he’s got a great heart and a great attitude, and probably most importantly, he appreciates my love of guitar slides and has humored me on more than one occasion. But while I’m sad, I’m also happy for him because this is a good opportunity. So in his honor, here are a few of his guitar slides that I’ve posted here on the blog…

Here’s one of the first (since I started documenting this sort of thing). The slide is around 0:11 and unfortunately isn’t very clear in the mix:

Two in one song!!!!

Perhaps the most fun one:

And my most favorite of them all:


1. It is not lost on me that there is a slim possibility that I will be a ‘mover on’ in the future, but I’m not going to dwell on that just now. I’ll think about that later… #professionalprocrastinator

Play it again, again

It’s no surprise here that I like music. I like it a lot. I think it about it regularly. I am frequently overwhelmed by it. I listen to it often. I have also spent the majority of my life doing music in some way or another. Directly and indirectly, music is how I pay my bills and eat (and consume music. And buy shoes.). I also like to listen to the same song/piece over and over and over again, on repeat. This means that my iTunes (more often than not) has the “repeat one” option engaged. It’s quite convenient for my obsessive (compulsive?) listening habit.

I also use my iTunes (on my laptop) at the church each week – to play pre/post-service music and to record the sermon. Usually, I remember to disengage the “repeat” option when I begin the pre-service music on a Sunday morning. Usually.

This past Sunday, I forgot. I started the first song on the playlist, and proceeded with my Sunday morning tasks. At some point shortly thereafter, I left the room for quite a few minutes. I remember looking at the song (“God’s Great Dance Floor” by Chris Tomlin – OK song, terrible title) and thinking it was a long-ish song. However, I distinctly recall walking back in to the room, hearing the song, and thinking, “This really IS a long a song.”

As the first service was ending, I hit play on my iTunes, and began to fade in the post-service music (well, pre-service music for the second service). Approximately five seconds in to the song, I realized it was the same song. Again. It had played at least five times before the service! I quickly started a new song and changed the repeat option on my iTunes.

No less than four people on our team mentioned it to me between the services. Maybe next Sunday, I’ll remember to check the repeat option before I play the pre-service music. However,  I’m pretty sure I know one song that I’ll leave off the playlist for the next few weeks.