Growing up in Albuquerque, New Mexico was a cultural education of many kinds, but live music was always a little bit elusive to me as a kid. I started to play guitar when I was 11 years old, and the first song I learned to play was “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her” by Mary Chapin Carpenter. A folkie was born and continued to grow along with heroes like Shawn Colvin and The Indigo Girls. I absorbed as much music as I could and wanted to be as close to how it was made and the people making it as possible.
When I moved into the dorms at the University of New Mexico in 2001, I was 7 years into being a guitar player, but I was just a fledgling songwriter. I began performing at open mics, and I had one whole original song to my name during my freshman year. I met Susan Gibson that first semester when she came to speak to my Music Appreciation class, and immediately began following all the Texas songwriters I could find because Susan’s talent and presence blew me away. I was quickly introduced to Terri Hendrix and Lloyd Maines because of their one degree of separation from Susan, and I was ecstatic when Albuquerque popped up on Terri’s tour calendar in 2003.
I enlisted my friend Lisa as my concert buddy, and we headed across the street from campus to a church basement where the show was being held. We both felt like we were in the presence of rock stars while watching Terri and Lloyd do their thing, and though I was dutifully working on my BA in History, deep down I knew I wanted to pursue music as far as it would take me, and as far as I could take it, even if I didn’t know what that meant.
I approached Terri at the merch table and hesitantly (with much prodding from Lisa...thank you, Lisa) handed her a burned demo CD I had made my senior year of high school. It was...well, looking back now all I can say is that it was most definitely the demo of a high schooler, but I was proud of it and I wanted to share it with one of my newfound heroes. Terri blew my mind when she handed me TWO of her CDs in return, which I insisted was a very unfair trade, but she and Lloyd sent me on way with my mind on fire with possibility and my heart filled with gratitude.
Class and tests and papers and hanging out for hours in the dorm basement with my friends was the norm, and I returned to the usual school life. Then, a week later in my email box was this:
Hi there Jana,
I listened to your music after Sunday night's show. You have a gift going on with your music. You have some great ideas and lots of fresh talent in what you are doing. I'm not sure what your plans are with your music. Both Lloyd and I agreed, out of all the CD's we received over the past few weeks, your music was our favorite.
Warm regards, Terri
Words cannot describe the feeling of elation that email brought me, and I am sure that I screamed for all of my roommates to come look the minute I read it through. I printed it out, and I paraded it around. I soldiered on through my classes and when I felt like I could not type one more word about the economics of Vichy France during World War II, I’d read that email.
The influence of Terri, Lloyd, and Susan helped make up my mind, and I moved to Austin a few months after I graduated in 2006. I had no plan, no job, and hardly any contacts...except for them. They welcomed me with open arms, open minds, and tons of advice.
Over the years I have had the privilege of working with Terri in several capacities. I’ve attended shows and workshops, opened some shows, and I have even lead a workshop myself at Terri’s OYOU Center. Now Terri and I trade pop music recommendations and bask in our shared love of electronica and beats. Through it all she has never faltered as a guide, an inspiration, and a friend. I am so honored to open the show for Terri & Lloyd, and I love how our circles keep coming back around again and again.
I still read that email when I need a lift. It still works.