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.

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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

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.

 

A Ukulele Update

I’ve had the ukulele for nearly two months now, and I’m still really excited about it. Although it’s been a busy couple of months with lots of travel (Lexington, Nashville, New Orleans, and Puerto Rico), I’m glad that I was able to take the ukulele with me on all of these trips except for New Orleans! With its new proper case, hopefully, it can join me safely on future travels too.

I’ve expanded my repertoire ever so slightly, and now in addition to classic country songs, I’ve learned the chords for “Rainbow Connection” in G (I learned all of the chords for the key change to G#/Ab, but I think it’s a lot more trouble than it’s worth), plus, a song or two by the Old 97’s. But my first song for playing the melody AND chords… is “Jingle Bell Rock” in C. With Christmas coming along, I’ve got a few more songs I’m hoping to learn, including my fave, “The Twelve Days of Christmas!

On the downside, playing the ukulele makes my left thumb sore (particularly bar chords, cf. earlier mention of playing in Ab). I have small hands, and this isn’t an issue when I play the guitar, but I’ve read various blog posts and discussions about it, and it seems like it’s not all that uncommon. Now that I’ve noticed it, I’m adjusting my left-hand technique, but I’m thinking I still might invest in some sort of strap to help with this. Any advice or recommendations?

My old (western) Kentucky home and Nashville!

I’m heading to Nashville for a conference (yes, another one) by way of western Kentucky to see my college friends (the same ones that came to visit me back in November). I am really excited to see them, and I was so excited that over the weekend I turned from my procrastinating ways. In order to maximize the friend time, I revised and re-worked the conference paper and presentation! And then there’s Nashville. I can’t wait to see my Nashville friends AND check out the Bakersfield exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Even though I didn’t procrastinate for the conference (it’s relative, I suppose; I mean give me a little credit that I didn’t wait until the night before), have no fear, all is right again since I waited until the last minute to clean up my house, do laundry, and pack. And then I realized I’ll only be at my house for eight or nine hours before I have to unpack, pack, and leave for the next thing. Not that I’m complaining… because the next thing is the beach! And then, before you know, it will be BACK TO (summertime) CHICAGO!

And stop reminding me that I have a ton of work to do. I’ll get around to it. Eventually.

Oh and p.s. blogging might be a little spotty over the next couple of weeks. I’ll post some photos and I may re-post a few of the most popular posts if I can figure that out.

Finally, a post about procrastinating!

As you can read under the title of my blog, I am a self-proclaimed procrastinator. And while the tagline of my blog addresses this, there really aren’t all that many posts here about procrastinating. This post attempts to address that shortage, while the title of the post notes that I procrastinate writing posts about procrastinating (see what I did there?).

I have attended a lot of conferences this academic year. No, really. A TON. OK, fine, I’ve attended five so far, six counting the day-long student symposium we did at school. I suppose it’s one of the perks of being a Professional Anything that one’s particular group of Anythings can get together in a hotel and meet and hang out and talk about the issues important to and related to Anything, regardless of how foreign it sounds to the rest of us.* And to use a Grand Master of Discourse-ism, academics are not afraid to have conferences.

After having a lovely time in Charlotte, a grand time in Santo Domingo, fun (as always) in Chicago, productive time (and reunion time) in Philadelphia, and a great road trip to Tallahassee, I’m trying really hard to get excited about Spartanburg. Don’t get me wrong, I’m really excited that I get to present at this conference, and even more excited that the grad school is footing the bill… it’s the motivation to write the paper and put the presentation together that’s REALLY lacking.

For some reason, back in the spring and summer when I was throwing abstracts at anything that moved, I decided to write a bunch of different abstracts for different conferences. I did this for a variety of reasons, some quite necessary, such as writing to the call for papers and/or trying to fit some of my research into a particular session or conference theme. But I also did it… because I’m a procrastinator. And I knew if I got accepted, then I’d have a deadline, and I’d have to write something new and different.

So here I am, dealing with the fall out of last year’s decision making now. And since I don’t present until Friday, I guess I’ll work on that tomorrow. Or the next day.

*Seriously, while we were in Charlotte at SAM, the “World of Concrete” was happening at the convention center across the street.

No place like home…

I’m hijacking the post-Sunday post today, even though there were some exciting moments in the service yesterday. For example, we had some technical difficulties in the service, which resulted in me sprinting, er, clomping up the stairs of the booth quite ungracefully, and some of us may have heckled one of our vocals about singing incorrect words to one song. Instead, however, I’m choosing to recap some of my recent travels.

I just made a whirlwind tour of academic conferences, going to Chicago, Dominican Republic, and Charlotte, NC, in a span of around two weeks. Since I’m so very glad to be home (the hashtag #oldlady comes to mind when I type statements like that), I’m going to give a couple of high points and let some photos do the rest of the work.

Chicago

  • Winter Chicago is slightly less charming than Summer Chicago.
  • Fabulous Chicago Actor and Amazingly Talented Husband continue to be extremely kind and gracious to me, and if it’s possible, I think they’re even more cool and awesome than before. I’m so thankful to know them!
  • In the midst of music theorists and historical musicologists at this conference, I was reminded of how my project doesn’t always fit in with theirs, or at the least makes me think “one of these things is not like the others.”
  • Getting out to Berwyn isn’t as easy as it sounds when it’s snowing and you’re relying on public transportation. However, I am certain that FitzGerald’s is worth it. I really hope to make it back there to see a show very soon.

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

  • In case you were wondering, I’m not a very good speaker of Spanish.
  • Santo Domingo is a lovely city. I hope to return some day, if only for the amazing coffee.
  • I am incredibly grateful for the old, new, and new-ish pals I got to hang out and travel with, especially the grad students from Florida State. They pretty much adopted me into their fold for the conference, and it was great spending time with them!
  • Our hotel was nice and in a perfect location right across from the Parque Colón and on the Calle El Conde, one of the oldest commercial streets in the city.
  • The conference organizers did a great job of planning activities AND down time for us (even though the walking tour didn’t work out so well). One of the highlights was a trip out into the country to visit a small town called Los Llanos. We saw an amazing student band perform and got to experience some local culture.
  • My topic seems less out of the ordinary at an ethnomusicology conference.

Charlotte

  • The Most Important Thing about the trip was easily reuniting with friends, including some of my DR Florida State pals. But I was Very Glad to spend time with the Grand Master of Discourse. It is always good to see her and catch up. I do hate that we live so far apart now.
  • Since I wasn’t presenting at this conference, I was only moderately committed to attending every single panel. I may have skipped the early panel… every day.
  • Musicology WIP TA and I had a great time, even though someone attacked her car with a key at some point during our trip. The boiled peanuts and ice cream helped just a wee bit.
  • Did you know the Nascar Hall of Fame lives in Charlotte? It is. We didn’t go.