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

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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.

I’d like to thank the Academy (and you)…

The short version of this post is that I submitted hard copies of the dissertation to the committee ten days ago, and I’m incredibly grateful for the love and support of friends and family who helped make it all possible. The longer version is, of course, below.

The printing took over two hours at Kinko’s and way too much money, but the task was accomplished. Certainly, this was a Great Relief, but I think I was too tired to really appreciate what was happening.

Part of what was printed (and what took a ridiculous amount of time to complete) was the Front Matter. This was very involved and tedious to compile, except for the Acknowledgements section, described as “You may write whatever you would like to on this page.” I like to read the acknowledgements, and I’ve thought about (dreamt about?) writing my own acknowledgements many times. I posted on Facebook that this process made me cry — to think of the many kindnesses and the great amounts of love from friends and loved ones that have helped me get to this point… and I’m sure I will revise it slightly, but I thought I would post it here (with a few notes).

It appears that a defense is scheduled. So while we wait for that, I give you the Annotated (and slightly abridged) Acknowledgements (notes in italic, along with footnotes when needed; typically I avoid using names on the blog just because, and I have adjusted accordingly):

The kindness of numerous friends, acquaintances, and colleagues has made this project (and its completion) possible. Advisor has offered endless amounts of advice and support, and asked difficult questions at every step of this process; her involvement has made this a much better project. The same can be said of the other members of my committee.1  Gender and Music Video (with Advisor) was one of the first classes I took as a doctoral student. I wrote a paper on Bon Jovi for this class, and it opened my eyes to popular music studies. Also, the so-called Proseminar (also with Advisor) was where I wrote my very first paper on country music (Loretta Lynn & Jack White to be exact).

History Professor provided feedback and guidance in the early stages of the research, for which I am grateful.2 I had the pleasure of working with My Academic Role Model and the Writing Intensive Program for many years, which greatly increased my understanding of writing and the writing process.3  Financial support from the University of Georgia Graduate School and the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts made fieldwork possible, while a Dissertation Completion Award from the Graduate School allowed me to actually finish this document and (finally) graduate. They gave me money. Seriously, I still can’t believe they gave me money. 

The entire Bloodshot crew has been kind and accommodating, even when I wouldn’t stop asking questions or took over large areas of their office space. Radio Guy has been especially helpful, beginning with his response to my very first email inquiry and phone call. The members of the Chicago musical community were immeasurably helpful, not only in sharing a wealth of information, but also providing good company, directions, rides, and even restaurant recommendations. At this point, I listed all of the Chicago folks I interviewed. As most of these folks are musicians who have recorded with Bloodshot, this part is basically extensive and glorified name-dropping!4 

If College Pastor had not introduced me to Talented Chicago Friends, a dissertation examining Chicago music would not have been possible. I left out friends’ names below, but I felt pretty justified in including the names of these three people here, because seriously, this project could NOT have happened without these providential connections. I am forever indebted to them for their repeated hospitality and grace. I crashed on their sofa more times than they likely wanted, and I am honored to now call them friends. Similarly, I owe a debt of gratitude to numerous Chicago acquaintances and friends for being genuinely nice to me over the past few years. If you’ve read my blog in the past few years, surely you’ve read recaps of my Chicago adventures. It really blows my mind to think about how much fun my research was (challenging at times, yes, but also lots of fun), and how nice and helpful so many people were to me.

In the category of friends and loved ones, I boast an embarrassment of riches. I’m not even exaggerating here. And seriously, maybe this is a #humblebrag, but I have a lot of friends – friends that I know from lots of different places & times in my life, friends that I love and who love me. I knew I couldn’t list names here, if only because I would leave someone out… but you should know who you are. 

The musicology/ethnomusicology students at UGA, past and present, have provided solidarity, stimulating discussion, gossip, and plenty of dorky jokes (particularly on Friday afternoons). This includes but is not limited to classes, seminars, Youtube Fridays in the WIP office, Hildegard Happy Hours, Friday lunches in all their many forms and locations, Friday happy, er, afternoons, date nights, and conference trips… I also wanted to include the many other students from other schools that I’ve met along the way… but wasn’t sure how to include them. Again, hopefully, you know who you are.5 Kentucky friends, Transy friends, Athens friends, UGA friends, and my church family at Watkinsville: your prayers, kind words, calls, texts, meals, drinks, love, and general awesomeness have kept me going on this long, winding, and at times, difficult journey. I am eternally grateful to you all. See? An embarrassment of riches. 

I must also mention Sarah at CAPS, who helped me through the most challenging year of my life. I started seeing a therapist one year ago. I was having a really difficult time… with life. I admit I was skeptical at first, but I’ve found the process to be incredibly helpful.6 Finally, to Mom, Sister, Brother-in-law, Nephews, & family, I love you all more than words can say. Thank you for your enduring support and love. I so wish Dad could have been with us to see the completed project, but I like to think he would be proud. Cue tears.

1. These statements are true. Of course, one’s relationship with his/her Dissertation Advisor is complicated. But… there were many, many times where I’m certain Advisor was convinced I was a complete idiot and/or could not believe that I did or did not do something “obvious,” and I, in turn, wanted to kick her. I’m glad I never did that.

2. She also made it possible for me to visit Puerto Rico that one time, so there’s that. Needless to say, I’m REALLY grateful for that, too.

3. No kidding. I really want to be like her if/when I ever grow up and get a Real Academic Job.

4. Speaking of name dropping, remember how I’ve gone to SXSW these past couple of years?!

5. Especially folks from FSU, and especially for letting me crash with them in the DR for SEMSEC that one time, but also the many friends I’ve made at ICMC, too.

6. Mostly, I was angry (I’m not exactly an angry person, maybe you’ve noticed). I was approaching Hulk-level rage on a regular basis, which was disconcerting, to say the least. Of course, it was grief & stress related. Of course. But it sure has been nice and helpful to hear someone tell me I’m not completely crazy on a regular basis. I’m certain it would help you too. Just sayin’.

Because blogging is easier than revising a chapter of my dissertation…

I was going to post about procrastinating, and how being a Good Procrastinator is knowing how long one can put something off and STILL manage to accomplish the task at hand – generally with only a few hours of sleep sacrificed… And how I pretty much failed at it last week (despite my claim of being a professional) with the most recent chapter revision – I greatly underestimated how long it would take to finish, and therefore sent the thing to Advisor a solid 36 hours later than I planned.1 

But I met with Advisor this morning (about said chapter), and I’ve got all kinds of things flying around my brain right now; and I lack the wherewithal to assemble that original post with detail. So instead, I’ll say last week was hard, what with the writing and…. Father’s Day, which was not my most favorite day/weekend ever.2 

Also, I got swept up in the tide of throwback photos on the magical interwebs this week.  I went through my high school and college photo albums (you know, one of those things that contains and displays actual printed photos!), and found some amazing pics. I will be sure to post them in the coming days (consider yourselves warned informed, friends I’ve known for a long, long time). But for now, here are two pics from my junior prom (back in the Stone Age) – including one of me and my Dad.

 


1. Better late than never, I suppose. Also, this might be the place to make some not-very-clever comment about putting this off until a later time.

2. It wasn’t as bad as I was expecting, but it certainly wasn’t fun. I’ve found the “big days” aren’t quite as difficult as the “I’m-totally-fine-OH-WAIT-I’m-not” days. For the former, there’s some emotional preparation, or at least expectation – which is just slightly easier to deal with than the “out-of-the-blue-sucker-punch” days. Grief sucks like that, I suppose.

A second blog post in the month of May!

It’s a procrastinating miracle – this is the second post for the month of May! I returned home from the best conference ever (that happens in one of the best towns ever) on Saturday night. I had entertained the thought of not attending the International Country Music Conference in Nashville because, well, because I’m lazy, and I didn’t want to write the paper (which just so happened to be a section from a dissertation chapter that *really* needed to be written). The thought of seeing some of my favorite people was a strong motivator, and I made the good (and good-for-me decision) to suck it up, write the section/put together a presentation, and I headed up to Nashville last Wednesday.

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The conference was (as usual) a great experience: I got to see and catch up with some of my academic idols, favorite scholars, and smart friends; I was inspired by some really great research and presentations; I met new, interesting, smart folks; and I got some feedback on my presentation that was helpful and encouraging. I’m very, very, very glad I went.

I have a (terrible? lazy?) habit of not really paying attention to the lyrics of songs when I’m listening for pleasure, which is only made worse, of course, if I’m doing something else AND listening to music. I had a list of bands/albums to check out from recommendations and/or presentations at ICMC, so as I was washing dishes tonight, I had pulled up a few albums on Spotify. I was thoroughly enjoying the new Sturgill Simpson album, and in my (slightly) mindless listening, I caught the phrase “I’m sorry but I’m just thinking of the right words to say,” and of course, it sounded really familiar.

The song is called “The Promise,” and was originally recorded in 1988 by the British band and one-hit-wonder, When in Rome. Considering that my presentation at ICMC addressed covers, the concept is still swirling about in my head, and I could say lots about this cross-genre cover version by Sturgill Simpson… but I should probably be thinking about my dissertation instead. In any event, I will say that Simpson’s approach to the song is languid and subdued (obviously lacking the insistent dance beat of the original), but it falls into its own little groove once it gets going.

What really sold me on the song, though, are the final two choruses of the song after the guitar solo/instrumental (3:16): Simpson sings the second of these choruses up an octave (3:40). I am a total sucker for this technique pretty much whenever it happens.1  I think it’s especially satisfying on this recording due to the fact that the vocal delivery for the bulk of the song is so understated. The added intensity of the delivery in this chorus, the upper range of Simpson’s voice, and the slight melodic alterations provide a great payoff, in my opinion, and also recall the original version of the song’s chorus. I have had this song on repeat most of the evening.2 

Sturgill Simpson – The Promise

And here’s the original…


1. I’m sure this happens in songs from all genres, but I am most familiar with it in contemporary Christian praise and worship music. It’s very common in these songs, and it happens at least once pretty much every Sunday at my church. And I still think it’s awesome every single time. Not as awesome as guitar slides, but pretty darn close.


2. Also, randomly, there’s a little motive in the strings (do-ti-re-do) in the second half of the second verse (1:59) that is the primary instrumental hook for the Cranberries song, “I Will Always,” off their debut album Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We? from 1993. I seriously doubt there’s an intentional quotation here, mainly because the motive is relatively simple and likely common; nevertheless, the two songs have the same feel, and are not too far apart in terms of narrative.

 

Writing things that are not part of my dissertation…

All of my writing efforts (well, except for this post) are geared towards dissertating these days, so my apologies for the lack of blogging here. After the California Closet wardrobe was installed in my bedroom, I got it in my head to finally take care of some other decor/decorating issues… with a trip to IKEA. Yes, it was a poor decision in the context of writing deadlines, sleep, etc., not to mention the requisite Putting Together of the Things purchased at the store. I still haven’t gotten around to assembling one large bookcase, and honestly, I have no idea when I’ll actually get around to that.1  But I have it, and one day, this bookcase will exist in assembled form to hold All the Books in my room. I did, however, assemble shelves to accompany my desk in the dining-room-turned-office.

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The Laiva bookcases were $25 each, plus they matched my desk. And they were easy to assemble. Ukulele’s there just hanging out – not its permanent home.

To answer the age-old question, “How’s writing going?” I shall refrain from an overly dramatic response, and say I’m making progress.2  I have chunks of all four of my main (non-intro/conclusion) chapters. Two of them are incomplete and completely incoherent, and two of them are approaching complete and flirting with cogency. I hope to turn in one of the incoherent chapters early this week (hopefully in an improved state), leaving one mess of a chapter to turn in the next week (again, hopefully in an improved state). All the while, I need to revise and re-work the other chapters. The goal has been to have a complete draft by spring break, which is frighteningly soon. I’m certainly not holding my breath at this point, but I haven’t ruled it out just yet either.


1. As a professional procrastinator, I have a decent idea of how much I can actually procrastinate and still (sort of) get stuff done in a timely manner. The assembly of this shelf generally exceeds my procrastination windows of time.

2. E.g., this. Or maybe this.

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…