Monday, April 16, 2007

It Takes a (Cyber) Village

The biggest blessing of my career is without a doubt the people I've met along the way. And I'm telling you, I can't imagine how I'd have planned this trip around the world without them!

People like Carey in Australia and Debbie in New Zealand - neither of whom I've even ever MET but I've KNOWN forever - have been incredible resources for me, answering all of my ridiculous questions about their homeland and never once laughing (out loud) at me. Tammie, whom I met at Fan Fair, just went to NZ and shared all of her wisdom and photos so I feel like I went right along with her. I can't even remember when, or how, I met Sandi (although I'm sure either Garth or Trisha were involved) but I'd have been lost without her support, and you all can thank her for lending me a gigantic memory card for my camera so I can bring you back lots of pictures and video! Paula, Moni and everyone else who has sent nice notes and interesting NZ links - I appreciate you all so much, even if I haven't had a spare minute to properly show it lately!

So I'm off! Headed to the airport shortly, loaded down with Country Weekly magazines and a whole lot of prayers. I'm leaving behind a completely crazy list of instructions for my husband and daily letters to my daughter.

I won't be back here until I'm back in the States (unless, of course, I happen to run into Shania when I'm at Lake Wanaka) but please check in on things over at my other blog - I will update it as I'm able!

Hugs & Heartpats -

Sunday, April 15, 2007

All in the Family

My dad builds sawmills for a living. I've spent the last 2 days scheduling logs. I think it all seems fitting doesn't it?

The hardest part about going on vacation is getting there. I'm using 104 hours of vacation time for this trip. But I had to work an extra 13 hours this weekend just to be able to go. I spent the bulk of the day at the studio today, and tonight am breathing MUCH easier! My intern is lined up on a bunch of projects, logs are done until I get back and I've booked everything I can book.

I wish I could say things at home were that organized. They're getting there. I have a very very very long list of things to knock out tomorrow, including little things like picking up my Rx and getting cash and/or traveler's checks for the trip. Poor Gary. I'm barking orders like a general as I run around like crazy. Where's the camera charger? Field trip permission slips? I have to pack school lunches for the week. Don't forget to sign the report card. What time is it in New Zealand now? Do I even have a watch to take? No, I have no idea where you park for jury duty, how on EARTH did you even get it tomorrow?

The best part about blogging is that I get to sit still for a few minutes to do it. :-)

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Name that song!

This Highway 16 subscriber email is what has occupied half of mine and Jay Thomas's brains this weekend:

I was just wondering who sings a song with the lyrics, "on a beach selling a tiki torch" or "on a beach selling tiki torches. " Well thats what it sounds like to me.

As soon as I read this, I knew I'd heard the song recently too. But I couldn't come up with it to save my life. I gave him some clues that I remembered, and he threw back some songs that he'd ruled out, and I picked through the Highway 16 database looking for something that jogged my memory. Alas, we came up empty handed, and it drove us both crazy into the weekend.

Until this afternoon when he called me to say he'd solved the mystery! Now. Can you?

I'll see if anyone gets it on the email alone before giving you the clues that I remembered about the song.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Thursday Ramblings

I was at the Country Weekly offices this week and picked up the new issue. (Keith Urban on the cover.) I don't think I'm crazy about this new size. It somehow doesn't seem as comfortable to hold.

Make sure you check out Storme's columnette in this one. I can't remember if I blogged about it or not, but when I saw him at a party a couple of weeks ago he told me he was going to do it. Hook has been baited - will he catch a fish?

I took this picture a couple of weeks ago, you cannot go ANYWHERE in Nashville these days without the Flatts boys staring you down. They're on billboards, bus benches, and busses themselves. I've never seen anything like it. If they don't win Entertainer of the Year it won't be for a lack of spending money trying. I do confess though, I giggle when I see the revolving billboard on West End. It's one of those that flips between 2 different companies. 1st image is simply an image of RF with just their name on it. 2nd image is a black screen with gigantic text that says "We Grow Hair" and a phone number. LMAO

I don't think this is public knowledge, but someone who is a good friend to country music and country music artists is having some pretty serious surgery tomorrow. A lot of y'all "know" this person, so send a prayer up if you would.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Protecting the Guilty

It's been a while since I wrote one of my all time favorite features - Protecting the Guilty. This one was worth waiting for!

It seems as though last night, an artist, with a current record deal and single on the charts, had a little too much to drink downtown. This artist stumbled out of Tootsie's, grabbed the nearest person, and offered the complete stranger $100 if he'd drive the artist home.

The stranger, recognizing the artist, said sure. The artist gave him an address out in the boondocks, and offered $200. Driver said $100 was fine, and artist soon passed out in person's vehicle. At this point, we should all be grateful the driver was an honest person not a hoodlum, or this story could have a much different ending.

Fortunately, the driver knew the area he was going to, which apparently is quite a ways outside of Nashville. Getting there didn't prove to be nearly as much trouble as arousing the artist from their drunken stupor to get them into the house. And guess what? Artist had no money. Told the driver to come back tomorrow.

Which... he did. And the best the artist could come up with was $40, got the driver's phone numer and promised to get the rest to him later.

What the artist doesn't know... but I do... is that there are pictures of the artist passed out in the stranger's vehicle. If I were this artist... I'd make sure I paid the debt. ;-)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Blame Jimmy!

I had an intern a year or so back that our running joke was always "It will work itself out." I'd tell her that for everything... because no matter how stressed you are, in the end, everything works out and we go on. Right? Right. So that was our little mantra.

Well today I was thinking of that a lot, because despite the massive stress and frustration of yesterday, everything worked itself out right down to the letter. It couldn't have gone any better. And all the channels involved were appreciative - I got a very nice phone call from one of our DC staffers who was SO excited to have had a session with John Prine and Mac Wiseman. It's nice when you get to make someone's day - but even nicer when they take the time to say thank you.

Even better, was my buddy Marty from X-Country, who had a large stash of post-Easter chocolate waiting for me at the studio today. ;-)

But get THIS.... one of the problems I was dealing with yesterday was with a bluegrass session I had booked for this morning at 10am. The group had originally wanted Wednesday, but our preferred engineer was not going to be available Wed. morning. So we booked them for Tuesday. Well, woops - turns out they had their schedules confused and it was really Tuesday he needed to be off. All I was told was that he had a meeting.

We tried moving them back to Wed., but Kyle wasn't available Wed. morning, and the band was leaving after lunch to go out on the road. And neither Kyle nor the studio were available later in the day Tuesday.

So much shuffling and we worked it out to bring in a 2nd engineer to do the Prine / Wiseman interview, freeing our preferred guy up to do our bluegrass session an hour later than our previous start time and enabling us to give 2 more XM channels a chance to talk to Prine / Wiseman. (That's a highly simplified version of what we went through, consider yourself lucky.)

Well as I mentioned, it all went off swimmingly, and as we were wrapping up I heard Travis, our engineer, telling Mac he'd had breakfast this morning with Jimmy Buffett.

I was sure I heard wrong. Or it was a different Jimmy. Or something.

Nope. Turns out Travis worked on his early albums, and the reason for all our scheduling shuffle was that Jimmy was in town and wanted to have breakfast with Travis.

Had I known that yesterday, it would have given me a much warmer, fuzzier feeling about all the hell we were going through. Of course, I might have been tempted to crash their breakfast too, which I'm sure is why they didn't tell me until after the fact.

I had a great interview with Miranda Lambert today. Will tell you all about it soon, as well as the new feature she's helping us launch.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Get out of my kitchen!

I wish I could adequately describe for y'all just how I spent my day today. But I can't. It was so convoluted, it blurs together in my mind.

Somehow, there was a hodge podge of 3 artists, 4 channels, 2 engineers, about 12 programming people - several of which didn't need to be in the mix at all - and a scheduling snaffu on the studio's part that combined with people not being available Good Friday to make decisions that now had to be made 18 hours out, along with Tuesday interviews trying to move to Wednesday when I didn't have air talent, a channel changing their mind from not wanting an interview to suddenly lining up their own interview, and people scheduling things without checking to see if a studio was available, and it wasn't. All of the above only slightly complicated by one of the artists needing to be in a studio that was wheelchair accessible.

Too many cooks spoiling my broth.

Yet miraculously, it somehow all worked out at about 4:30 this afternoon, and we're doing it all, plus a Miranda Lambert interview, tomorrow.

Fortunately, after THAT day, I had a previously scheduled Mexican dinnner with a girlfriend... it's amazing the pain a good margarita can take away.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

How I can write off my trip to New Zealand...

OBVIOUSLY - I need to go check in on Shania. You can read the accompaning article from a link by the photos. And it JUST so happens that I will be spending a night at Lake Wanaka.

Doesn't that work out nicely?

I'm sure the IRS would just love that.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

An Hour with Keith Urban

That's how my morning started off.

Just thought I'd share.

He gave me travel advice.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

How NOT to do a show -- by Producer J.

One of the things you get by visiting this blog is the behind the scenes scoop. Sometimes it's on a party, sometimes it's on an interview, sometimes it's just gossip I've heard over lunch.

And sometimes... I'm telling tales on me.

I'm the first to admit I'm the Queen of Procrastination. I've talked about it here before. But yesterday, I took it all to a whole new level. COMPLETELY unintentionally, I might add.

We've been trying, since Nashville Star wrapped, to get a Highway 16 Driver's Ed scheduled with winner Angela Hacker. And we finally did for Wednesday afternoon. Then it moved to Wednesday noon. Then, last Thursday, when I was "off" I got an email that they needed to move it to Monday.

At the time, my flooring people were running ridiculously loud saws and I couldn't hear to call the studio and reschedule. So via IM I assigned Kim, who was working at the studio, to go up to the front desk and get it moved. Which she did.

What I didn't assign her to do was change the calendar appointment. And once she got it rescheduled, it never crossed my mind again.

So first thing Monday morning I was at the Hall of Fame studio and I called AP, our secondary location that we use for all our performance tapings. I was calling about a bluegrass booking. When I got that taken care of I said "Now I just want to make sure you have all the setup information for our other bookings this week."

And Katie, the very sweet scheduler, says "we're good for Angela Hacker at 11."

11? Today? Monday? NO!!! Angela is Wednesday on my calendar! "Well your assistant re-scheduled it last week for today." Much frantic checking of email, checking with Jon, and I discover, sure enough, it's today at 11. "Ok, gotta go!"

It was 10:40 at this point. Jon and I were both across town. And I didn't have a show written.

I had, thankfully, listened to the CD. But I didn't have any sort of bio information on Angela from the label, I just had a list of songs. And 20 minutes before she was due to show up.

Jon completely thinks I'm crazy for wanting to do the show, and suggested we reschedule. But I knew the reason we were doing it today at 11 was she was involved in some charity event later in the week, and the 11am window was the only time our studio had today. Angela still lives in Muscle Shoals, so we needed to grab her while we could.

So Jon chauffers me over to AP while I outline the show, and I jump on the computer and start writing. Our plan was to - as we usually do - have her lay down her acoustic songs first, and by that time I'd be done with the show itself. I could knock it out in 40 minutes, right?

11am rolls around and the show is shaping up nicely and her record label rep shows up, and says she's on the way. 11:10 comes, and I've got the show done. No Angela yet, so I get to go back and polish it up a little better. 11:20 gets here and I've got the show printed and even have time to type up the liners Jon had hand written while I was working on the show.

11:30 comes, and still no Angela. Her label person is trying to track her down. We're told she's still 20 minutes outside of Nashville. She was driving in from Muscle Shoals and had been told we were taping at Noon. Woops.

So after all that we've got time to spare. She arrives just a few minutes before noon - alone. We were told her brother Zak was going to be playing with her. This was news to Angela. Woops again. So I tweak the script a little. And we're off and running.

The show itself, after all that, turned out just fine, and Angela was amazing in her performance - just her and a guitar. She has that "just smoked a pack of cigarettes and washed it all down with some whiskey" quality to her voice -- it's very raw, and amazingly powerful.

So when the show airs later this month you'll know the back story. All's well that ends well - but it's sure not my preferred method of doing a show!