Top: The Doras - Connie, Mariana, Heather
Bottom: Emily Shirley, Katie Lessley
Tuesday I decided to try out a new open mic that’s both new to me and also fairly new to Austin, at Rusty’s. A few stops down the line on the bus, a guy with a guitar got on. We traded our guitar stats and struck up a conversation. His name was Landon and he was just finishing a rehearsal, I told him I was on my way to an open mic and he decided to come along as well. He had taken a leap of faith and moved to Austin for music just a few weeks ago, and was running into all sorts of supportive situations.
I love that this is a theme of Austin, that not only do people move here to follow their musical dreams, but the amount of support and encouragement in the community gives them fuel to follow through and keep making it happen. May not be the case for everyone, but it’s certainly a story I hear often enough here to be a theme!
In any case, we got there just as a line dancing session was finishing up (that could be a fun night, dancing plus music!), and Raul let us know that we got employee pricing on drinks for playing. The sound system was good and the raised stage was fun to play on. The list was short, so we got to play four songs, always love that!
Songs: Rain Song, I Know, Shoreline, Keep Telling Me
(pic of Raul at Backroads a couple months ago, before they put up the new wall)
Today is Raul’s birthday, so last night was his birthday open mic. They’ve put up a new slat type wall that helps divide the stage area from the billiards area without closing stuff off too much, I like that.
Raul’s guitar pickup was wonky so I let him play mine. Always fun to hear what she can do in someone else’s hands (if that someone is a person I trust!). Raul did a couple great new ones. Ana B came by and did a few with my guitar as well and then we sewed some more whales until we had to go catch our busses. Josh gave me crap for them not being anatomically correct, but conceded they were still very nice and probably made up in cute what they lacked in scientific correctness. :-)
Songs: I Know, Shoreline of Alaska, Rain Song, Jonah’s Whale
Billboard outside Opa’s that cracked me up. Says “Es Bud Light con un twist” Spanglish FTW!
I managed to catch the right bus to get to OPA early instead of late, and Tom Harvey walked in a few moments after. He reminded me that there was a song of mine he wanted to harmonize on and we decided to go out in the courtyard and see if we could figure out which one it was. After figuring out it was Keep Telling Me, I wrote out the lyrics for him on two pages, it has a lot of words and I was writing in Sharpie.
Ana B had us unplugged, I guess there have been some requests to turn it down the past few weeks, and if there’s no mic, there’s nothing to turn down! :-) It did create a bit more of an intimate atmosphere, those who wanted to hear all came close instead of spreading out, and it ended up being a night of sing-alongs and duos and trying out new things. With that precedent set, I kicked off with Rain Song, encouraging everyone to join in, and Tom and I decided to go for it with Keep Telling Me as my last song. After a false start because the two pages I wrote out for him were in the wrong order, we had a great time singing it, and it will only get better in the next times we sing it and Tom has more time to figure out more guitar fills and such. Pretty cool.
I brought some of my felt whales to work on while listening to the other performers, and Ana B joined in with sewing together a few. I am making a bunch of them to offer as Kickstarter prizes, so it was nice to have the help!
Songs - Rain Song, Jonah’s Whale, Keep Telling Me
I’ve heard good things about the House Wine open mic for a while, but since I always had rehearsal on Monday nights, I was never able to go. So when I finally had a free Monday I jumped on the chance.
It’s a pretty sweet little set up, an intimate courtyard with a small stage area on the porch above. Justin & Tiffany who also host Baker Street on Sundays are the hosts and they are so gracious and fun.
I arrived just as a duo was setting up, and I thought the girl’s voice sounded familiar but couldn’t place it. A little later in the evening she came up to me and said, “This might be a little weird, but are you Heather? I’m Jess from SpinTunes.” SpinTunes is the online songwriting contest I’ve participated in a few times and judged the last time around. Jess was one of the final four in the last round. I hadn’t known she was living in Austin, but she recognized the big flower I was wearing in my hair from my judge profile picture! I was so happy she had introduced herself, and I was even able to let her know that I’d been thinking of her when I had a job filling vending machines one weekend, since one of her songs in the contest was about being in love with the guy who fills the soda machine. It was no wonder her voice sounded familiar, I heard it quite a lot while listening to all those songs over and over for the judging! And I just happened to get her picture, I was taking one of the venue for the blog and they were the ones playing at the time.
Fun also to run into a mix of new people and some familiar faces from other open mics! The only thing that was a little funny was there’s a P. Terry’s right across the street, so every so often a “NUMBER 42!” (or whatever number) punches through the night as they call out people’s orders for pick up! Made me jump more than once.
Songs: Keep Telling Me, I Know, Shoreline of Alaska
Photo by Amy Zamarripa
Hadn’t been to Fair Bean in a while so it was good to be back. It started off a little bit of a slow night but several folks showed up midway through and it ended up being a pretty full list by the end, though those of us left still got to squeeze in another song or two.
One lady in the audience told me after my set that she liked my voice and would love to hear me cover “Passionate Kisses” by Lucinda Williams. I’d only ever heard it done by Mary Chapin Carpenter, but it was one my Dad had thought I should cover years ago, so maybe that’s a sign that I better actually do it!
Songs - Round 1: All or Nothing, I Know, Rain Song. Round 2: Keep Telling Me
Photo by Amy Zamarripa
The weather was pretty perfect for being outside in the awesome courtyard. Connie and Robert picked me up to check out the stage since we were supposed to play there the next week as part of a songwriter’s showcase. Unfortunately the showcases were cancelled, I guess they weren’t bringing enough people in or something. It’s a bummer but luckily I found us a new place to play in a couple of weeks! More time to practice!
It was still a great night to hang out with Connie, Robert and Amy, especially since we didn’t find out about the cancellation till the end. Plus I chatted a little bit with Patrick from Patrick’s Beard and the Rusty Razors. Turns out he is from Iowa too, the same SE corner of the state, and actually used to hang out in the house next to the bed & breakfast I went to with my husband the last time we were in Burlington, IA. The woman who runs it used to teach art to his ex-girlfriend or something of the sort! What a small and crazy world we live in!
Songs: All or Nothing, I Know, Jonah’s Whale, Shoreline of Alaska
On my way to Whip In on Tuesday I pulled up my blog on my phone to remember what songs I had played there last, but I couldn’t find the entry. After looking a few times, I finally ended up Googling myself and did find it, way back in February! Had it really been that long? I guess it had, I’ve just been to the Whip In a couple times since to see shows, and at one of those shows I even ended up hanging out with DC, the Whip In host, so it really didn’t seem like it had been that long!
I had picked out a table by the front, but was asked to move because there was going to be dancing. Luckily a few open mic scene regulars had a spot where I could join them at their table a little further back. They had both done the Kerrville Folk Festival before and gave me some good tips.
It turned out the dancing was belly dancing! There was a group called Joined at the Hip, of 4 hand drum guys and two dancers in full costume, and apparently the dance was improvised, but these women were so in synch you never would have known it. Pretty awesome.
Somehow I remembered that my pickup battery was dead, which is a big pain because to change it I have to detune my strings slack enough that I can reach my hand inside to replace it. I cut my thumb on something inside but got it changed pretty much in time, and thank goodness for my Snark tuner that could tune pretty quietly even during the set before. I still ended up having to tune a little more from stage, because I hadn’t realized my spot was coming up so quick, but hopefully it wasn’t too long. Feels like an eternity when you’re up there!
I was the only girl musician on the list that night, which stuck out at me perhaps a little more because I had just listened to the podcast of a recent KUT special called “Unsung: The Stories of Women in Texas Music”. I do think it’s getting better for women in music, but there were some sad/bad stories in that podcast, that happened in my lifetime, and it’s frustrating.
Afterward one of the dancers, Andrea, told me that their improv belly dancing was kind of like jazz, improvised within a vocabulary of moves. She also told me that I reminded her a bit of Edie Brickell. I don’t know about all artists, but for me, finding out who people hear me sounding like feels like a gold nugget of information. I hate filling out those online profiles where they want to know who you sound like, because sure, I have my favorite people and influences, but I don’t know what I actually sound like, I can’t hear it from the outside! :) Plus DC said he liked the new one, Tom wanted to get the words so he could sing harmony on Keep Telling Me, Richard liked last one, so that means good feedback on all three songs, yay!
Songs: Keep Telling Me, All or Nothing, Shoreline of Alaska
There are a few things that are a little hard to believe when I sit down to write this post:
1. I’ve played my songs and solos on other people’s songs in a band.
2. I’ve been doing that for almost a year now
3. That year is almost up!
4. I forgot to get pictures of our final Rubicon Showcase!
I did get some videos, which need a bit of editing and my iMovie is acting up. As in, I think I might have to buy the new version. Boo. But I grabbed some screenshots at least for now. We couldn’t all fit in the same frame, so here is me and Connie:
And here is Mariana:
We did a five song set together and kept it pretty simple this time around. I was on my acoustic the whole time, Connie on her mandolin and Mariana on her acoustic for all the songs except Anchor where she did the shaker instead.
Songs with The Doras:
Keep Telling Me (Heather)
Let the Mystery Be (Iris DeMent cover by Connie)
Joyful Noise (Mariana)
After our set the guys group did a super-kick-ass-funky-got-me-dancing-in-the-corner set. Then there was a bit of a break and most people cleared out and then I finished off the day with one last set on my own. I had two songs ready, and since it was my last Rubicon showcase, Dan said some nice things about me and even had me play one more song.
Solo: Wings, I Know, Shoreline of Alaska
I’m sure gonna miss the band! Luckily we are doing one more show together out at the Red Shed on April 24th!
Ana & Josh at OPA!
Another Tuesday, another awesome open mic at OPA! Ana and Josh did some tunes they’d been working on together. The list was short enough we got to do four songs. Ana sang some secret harmonies with me from the audience, and there were good listeners tuned in, which is always nice. The only bummer was since I was on a routine to get to bed early during recording weeks, I had to leave early to catch a decent bus and missed the last few performers.
Songs: Anchor, I Know, Jonah’s Whale, Shoreline of Alaska
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