Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My full circle life in music

I'm working in music again. But approaching it like a brand manager this time and not caring at all that I don't know exactly how things work in the music industry these days.
I say it all the time. Not being jaded by the "rules" or history of something makes it easier to reinvent. So, though music is a soul crushing business and one that can stomp an artist's heart, I feel strangely fearless.
I owe that to one Robyn Ludwick.

I often get asked "What got you in the vodka business?" And the answer is The music business.
I started taking corporate event and music marketing gigs when I moved to Austin. I moved to Austin because I wanted to take my experience in marketing the arts, like theatre, and apply to the music scene in Austin. So I did. In a weird corporate sell out kinda way.
Eventually those jobs led me to one where I promoted and sponsored unsigned bands all over the USA for Jim Beam Brands. I sat in those corporate meetings listening to those old white men try and relate to new bands and the people that follow them. They sent out millions of dollars in swag and spent more on advertising and though the bands loved me and appreciated the support from Jim Beam, they did not drink it and they were very sensitive about appearing to "sell out". One fall, after seeing Tito on the news, I ran into him and told him I think I knew the way to make it big in booze with no $$. AUTHENTICITY. TRUST. WORD OF MOUTH. NO ALIENATION or STATUS MKTG CRAP. Duh. He already had a stellar product.
2 months later, Jim Beam measures their giant waste of $$ and Tito calls me. Goodbye Bands. Hello Tito and no $$. Hello Happiness. The most amazing challenge of my life....to take Tito's to the streets.
So, You know how this turned out 8 years later.
This year, I ducked out of my title at Tito's to get my creative life in order and take more clients outside of liquor and though I had met her a few years back at a music festival in Steamboat, Robyn Ludwick officially found me and asked me to help her manage a record release.
Her music made me say YES before I knew what I was agreeing to. Just like I agreed to work for Tito for free because he was too broke for employees. I felt something cosmic. It was one of the adult absolute truths.
Robyn's CD will be out in the fall and more than that, she's an incredible person who's spirit has become a beautiful source of calm and warmth to me. Though I have bouts with self doubt at times when it comes big decisions I've made, Robyn reminds me this is all making perfect sense and leading in a place I need to go too.
Oh, AND she is playing this Thursday at Continental Club at 6:30pm. Her music is dark and primitively female. This is her bio.

Many a green song writer has squeezed callow lyric from near-empty diaries, hoping that one day life might catch up with their words. Robyn Ludwick entered the world of song primed by years of life lived. When pen did come to paper, it teemed with ink—and was driven by a hand softened by love and strengthened by life.
Her earliest nights found her sprawled across the folding chairs of many a Hill Country dancehall, eyelids closing on her grandparents, as they twirled each other over creaky wooden floors. Her older brothers would grow to be Two of Texas’ favorite sons, Bruce and Charlie Robison.
While her schoolmates were embracing the rituals of small-town Texas; Robyn was teaching herself guitar and sneaking off to Austin, immersing herself in the city’s wealth of live music. Eventually she’d settle there, where rent was paid working the door at the world famous Continental Club. Robyn shared many a lean meal with her brothers in those South Austin days. From their Goodwill couch, she plotted a stable future for her and the family she hoped to one day have. She shelved dreams of a career in music and enrolled in The University of Texas School of Engineering and eventually took work in that field. Just after she and husband John “lunchmeat” Ludwick had their first child, and felt their road had been paved, Robyn was laid off. The intensity of such life changes woke Robyn’s sleeping songwriter.
"It just pretty much poured out at that point. I guess it was time, you know." Robyn cashed in her pension, and dove headlong into her craft.

The critics agreed that it was time, as 2005’s For So Long , Produced by the legendary Danny Barnes of Bad Livers, was named a top 10 album of the year by both the Austin Chronicle, and renowned Austin public radio station KUT-FM. It went to No. 1 on the Euro-Americana Music Chart and earned her a raved-about SXSW 2006 showcase (sponsored by No Depression, the Americana magazine), and a slot at the 2006 Austin City Limits Music Festival.
After many acclaimed performances for American and European audiences, Robyn got to work on her second album. Too Much Desire, another set of soulful originals. Released in 2008 to many a stunning review, contributions from Grammy nominee Eliza Gilkyson, Rich Brotherton, Mike Hardwick and more, coalesce with a timeless execution on Robyn’s part, the effect of which is, as AllMusic puts it: “…elegant and graceful as a straight razor; it takes no prisoners, makes no apologies. In other words, it's just drop-dead gorgeous.”
Look for Robyn’s latest, Out of these Blues, when it hits the rack this year. It features a dizzying cast, including Producer/Multi-instrumentalist Gurf Morlix (Lucinda Williams, Blaze Foley), Ian “Mac” MacLagan (Small Faces, Faces, Rolling Stones), John Ludwick, Eddie Cantu, Gene Elders (George Strait, Lyle Lovett), Trish Murphy, and Slaid Cleaves.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

AN EPIC Haiku of our trip by my husband John

From Blogger Pictures

I can't blog literally below this without adding my husbands brilliant account as well in haiku form.

Again you sprawl for my tires.
What things we have seen.

Texas Panhandle,
More Tornadoes there than trees.
Room enough to think.

The wind blows stiff,hot
in Palo Duro Canyon.
Girl Scouts foil our sleep.

Ginger-faced scout girl,
More freckles than days on earth.
Pets my spotty dog.

Camp site shower stall.
One wouldn't expect fat perv,
Fuck expectations.

Clouds in deep whiteness,
Well-powdered wig for Pike's Peak.
Mole-hills of Mountains.

Antlers reach for God.
Matted fur, limbs made stone-stiff,
by two days of death.

Garden of the Gods.
Some truth in advertising,
In this world of lies.

White Georgian Mansion,
Home to ghosts and Roosevelt.
Wind hollows my bones.

Here, room 416.
Oh, you walked in on someone?
Try 307.

Twelve hours across Plains,
If grass were gold we'd be rich.
Why does our hound moan?

Here comes a hill,wow!
There it goes now back to flat.
Olive paws window.

Why give names to towns,
when they're just a church and pump?
Wincing dog door scratch.

George Armstrong Custer
Lived in that house? Let's burn it.
Olive! Calm down.Dog!

Finally,close now.
These fields open to cities.
Ignore the dog,Beth.

Poof! Pressure released.
Was it a tire? wish it was.
Stench comes on like death.

Brown splatter on seat.
Daddy's arm caught in cross-fire.
Pull the fuck over!

Topeka Ghetto.
Sun falling, we must work quick.
Where'd I hide the knife?

Please, my Hindu friend,
may I wash in your restroom?
Customers only?

Sell me some towels.
You have not one brand of soap?
Nag Champa for smell.

Dry scrub and dry heave.
Empty tank and empty dog.
Back seat,Wife laughing.

From Blogger Pictures

From Blogger Pictures

From Blogger Pictures

Ghost Hunts & Dog Sharts

I'm back in Austin, Texas again working like a dog and sick as one due to a nasty bout with food poisoning.
Staying in at night eating nothing but watermelon allows me a few moments before bed to blog and I feel like I need to say something of my eccentric trip up north.
Fist stop was a camping trip in Palo Duro Canyon in Canyon, TX. RECOMMENDED... IF you have an airconditioned RV, or it's November and only IF there aren't girl scout troops camping next to you. Despite the girls, the heat and the perv in the men's shower, I loved it and I woke up in great shape which I feel like I owe to fresh air.
Next Stop: Garden of the Gods. Manitou/Colorado Springs. Love it. Must go back.
I have a mysterious OLD black and white photo that I've had my whole life I seem to have inherited from family. I never knew where the photo was taken but it's incredible. The minute I started dating Johnny and he saw it, he knew instantly. It's his favorite place on earth. The Garden of the Gods. It's so incredible and impossible to describe, but it's basically a cluster of giant rock formations. Manitou is a cozy quaint mountain village behind it that has a tad bit of darkness to it and a pinball-arcade game museum that you can actually play in. Rad.
Next up, 3 more hours to Estes Park in the Rockies, just north west of Denver. This is where the dogs go to a very nice kennel a few streets away from the Stanley Hotel, where we stay for 3 nights.
Many people think the Stanley is where the filming was done of the Shining. Not so. It's where Stephen King was inspired to write it after having some, um, experiences there. The hotel is haunted by a variety of spirits with pretty accurate hang outs.
We were to meet up with the Ghosthunters from the SyFy TV show and some of the other paranormal professionals they work with, including Chip Coffey, the psychic and medium from Paranormal State and Psychic Kids on A&E. I'm a sucker for Chip. If he wasn't related to any this, I would want to be his friend.
We went to classes and dinners and got to investigate one full night in all of the most active locations. Some were active, some were not. Many of the people offering the classes and panels had totally different views on what's paranormal vs psychological. Some were religious. Some not. Interesting.
My biggest investigative experience was with Grant from the show, my husband John and a handfull of others in one of the most active rooms on the 4th floor. (Take it or leave it. For what it's worth, there is no way for me to explain the feel of the room or the ease in which the lighted answers came...but I will attempt. I'm not writing my experiences to debate. I could give a shit really whether anyone believes or doesn't. I have my own opinions.This is just what happened.)
The K-II meter, which is a device that works to pick up on fields that are considered to be electromagnetic. Paranormal researchers believe that each spirit is composed of a specific type of "energy". In most homes, businesses, and even in the environment, there are normal ranges of energy that are considered to be electromagnetic, but most of the levels in a particular area will remain constant. The K-II meter picks up on inconsistencies in these levels, often showing them to go higher in range. For the ghost hunter, this typically indicates that there is the possibility that a "ghost" or a "spirit" is near, emitting the energy.
Grant started to ask questions of any of the spirits in room 417 and eventually the K-ll device started to light up in yes or no reactions using the lights from ONLY one of the K-II meters in the room. No one was holding the K-ll meter and we have other equiptment with which to measure energy fluctuations and record EVPS. From the answers coming through the K-ll, we were able to conclude that this was a boy child ( Hello, sounds of balls bouncing through those halls) and when his answers started to trail off Grant asked if he wanted to talk to a girl instead. Each female in the room asked him if it was them he wanted. After several girls asked, he picked me. And Grant then, taught me how to best talk to a ghost. And we talked for about 10 minutes. Awesome. Yes or no answers came rapidly for me and then he got slower so I let him go,
Besides that, there were a few more episodes in different rooms and I can say that I was never comfortable in ours. John and I had chills the whole time, I inistsed on the door being open when I bathed, and the chills only stopped when we checked out. I also had a fairly traumatic and inspiring totally personal message come to me from Chip Coffey as he picked me last out of about 20 people in a room of 150 to tell a messge to. THAT situation is far more strange and wild and only for those who choose to ask me what happened in person. Get ready. It's freaky. True or not. I'm processing still.
John and I also broke our dogs out of the kennel every day and hiked the Rockies with them which I have to repeat at some point. We then drove another 12 hours to KCMO, and Olive the puppy had a stomach problem and shat all over the front seat. After much swerving, we finally pulled over at a horrible gas station in Topeka that had no paper towels or soap...but did have Nag Champa. We did the best we could and held Nag Champa next to our faces the rest of the way. We saw friends in KC and went to see the show Quixotic there and I continued my usual tour of nursing homes to visit family. We drove another 12 miles back to Austin with a baby bird I saved from a dog's mouth who fell from it's nest and who rode around on my shoulder only to meet it's destined end back in the mouth of my Catahoula hunting dog puppy when we turned out back for a second. I'm seriously heartbroken. Nature sucks sometimes. But Roadtrips rule.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

My attempt at a vacation (not really)

Part of the reason I decided to break the chains that bound me at my last big gig was that I had no back up. There was no marketing department or person that could really cover for me. I tried taking a vacation only twice there in 8 years and nothing bad happened but it took an act of nature for me to be brave enough to plan it and let go. That being said, the only week I had ever spent with my husband present and unplugged was our honeymoon. Im surprised I even got that far with him in the relationship with the way I hardly looked up from my blackberry.
Now that I make my own schedule and only really rely on myself, I feel more free to make plans. I'm still sort of uncomfortable leaving 8 or so clients at home and trying to deal with their business in one coffee shop trip a day on the road, but this is my new life and I have to try and live it the way I've set out to, even if it's baby steps. I'm far harder on myself than anyone else is of course.
What am I doing on the road you ask? Well, Since I feel like I represent other people, I'm often quiet about certain topics in my life. I'm always quiet about politics and religion but that's another post.
I guess I am feeling more confident lately and feel like most people in my life know who I am at this point.

One of my hobbies is paranormal research. I grew up in old haunted places, I have had several personal experiences with loved ones who passed on and I am just very interested in gathering scientific evidence on the subject.
I'm not looking for anything personal to happen in fact, it scares me more than anything. I really need this experience to stay scientific.
So, lately I have been attending some hunts and gatherings in San Antonio, and so this week, I am joining a big group for an investigation of the Stanley Hotel in Estes Pak, CO. over 3 days. I'm excited and maybe a bit intimidated. We are camping with our dogs all the way up to Estes Park and then after our stay there, we head to Kansas City to see my hulahoop dance teacher and friend Laura sing in an incredible performance art show in Kansas City called Quixotic. (Yes, I said hulahoop dance teacher, again -that's another post)
I also pick my newly retired mom up there and bring her down to Austin with me for a few weeks.
I hope to also take her to West Texas and Willie's 4th of July picnic.
This concludes my travel related post.
One of these days I may actually post about marketing, but right now I am too busy doing it and I just want to talk about how I am trying to navigate my new life outside of it.