There's something blossoming about Austin Texas. Might be that time of year, where all the flowers bloom at the beginning of Spring. Maybe that's why I'm completely congested and coughing my lungs out. "It's only allergies, Gilli, everyone gets it this time of year." "I don't get allergies! No I picked up a bug, I'm sure (cough cough sniffle sniffle)." So here I am on the plane flying back to Los Angeles feeling like death warmed up, but heck I had a wonderful time in Texas, y'all! No truly, I did. This was my second time. This time two years ago Toni and I had driven across the desert from L.A through Arizona and New Mexico, and hit Austin after a week of driving. Flying in this time was luxury! Also two years ago Bush went to war. I remember the night well. We were in an Irish pub in New Orleans when all of a sudden the whole room exited and I was left playing my romantic love songs to no one except my Dat player that was recording the show. On the TV Bush announced the first missile attacks. Yes, the good ol' days. I've always been reticent about returning to Texas post invasion, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the liberal minds I discovered in this beautiful city surrounded by rivers. The Colorado River weaves its way to Austin (that river is such a whore. I mean, it runs through every city I know from here to L.A... well seems like it!) The weather was impeccable, mostly, except for the light thunder storm on the Saturday, and even then it ended with the most magnificent rainbow that warmed my congested lungs. Wednesday we flew in and was picked up by the hostess with the most-ess Deb Flanagan, who works for TexasRadio1.com, the truly best independent radio station on the web I've seen,... in Austin ;) (To be fair, there are some exceptional online radio stations across the country!) We dined at Guerros, a must-eat Mexican food restaurant up on Congress, which represented a cross section of college students, conference participants not yet seedy from the ensuing drunken debauchery the next few nights would bring them, and our little posse.... Deb, Toni (my right hand gal) and me. I like Austin because every Mexican restaurant we dined at (and trust me, with my infatuation with Mexican food that was every night), I can order spinach enchiladas. Yum. The margaritas were less to be desired but the hunky waiters made up for it. "gilli he's way to young for you." "yes I know I know. Gosh whatever happened to the golden twenties....! I was stuck in a studio somewhere I think. Or stuck on some road trip or another. Or stuck inside my head. Deb said that 1 in 5 people get a bacterial infection from the water when they move here. Look out Gilli. Our accommodation was a less than extravagant, rather hokey, but relatively inexpensive, hotel up on highway I-35. The bath plug wouldn't hold water, there was no conditioner for my now down to my waist long wiry (tonight) tresses (that's a real nightmare for me... brushing non-conditioned hair. takes me forever), and the air-conditioning smelled like B.O mixed with laundry detergent. BUT, the beds were really comfortable. If we had the truck we could have taken them back home with us. Way better than my pull out sofa i've been sleeping on back home for the last 7 years. (Do i take care of myself? No.) No wonder I have to hang upside down every morning, just to get the kinks out of my aching hips. (No Gilli, says Anne my room mate (also from the Central Coast in Oz), that's because you want to run 4 miles a day up Fryman Canyon which is as steep as the empire state building's stair well.) So back to the hotel. The Wingate. Thanks to Sean Agnew we got a decent rate so in fact it helped cut our costs nearly in half. I do want to thank Sean because it was a cool hang for us chicks and we all got to mingle. AND we made it the meeting ground for the GoGirlsMusic.com gals. We had an awesome breakfast where all the touring artists gathered and met and greeted and drank dank coffee and go over exhaustion from club hopping together. It was sweet. No truly! One of the hardest working people in the Indie Music business is Madalyn Sklar. I have the utmost love and respect for her. Based out of Houston TX, she runs the ultimate Female artist networking group called Go Girls. Mostly we all discuss and share tips and tour stories on the discussion board on a daily basis, which if you use it well and you have tenacity, you can organize your national tour in days just through gig swaps, venue leads and even some press, radio and tv tips. Housing accommodation, musicians, advice,... all gathered through the discussion group. Madalyn created an Invasion of the Go Girls for this week and as an "elite" member (I feel so honored ;) I helped her host and speak to the girls who came from all areas of the States for this special music week. The main reason we were here was for SXSW - this is the largest music conference in the U.S and it happens in March every year. Every Tom, Dick and Harry come out to this conference to schmooze, network, do deals, find artists, find labels, all of the above. Believe me, this is still a men's business week. But we did our utmost to make our presence known. Representing Songsalive!, our non-profit songwriters organization, Toni and I shared an exhibition booth at the conference with etunz.com and TexasRadio1.com. It was a load of fun. We get so many artists and songwriters coming up to the booth wanting help, resources and tools, and there is nothing like us in the States, so we get members joining because they see we will help them showcase, tour, network, get their music out there. Toni is the dynamite promoter and she is constantly talking us up like a storm and recruiting songwriters to join. I reckon she knows every member of ours by name. That's special. I call her "mother hen 2" because Roxanne is "mother hen 1" in Australia with our artists. They are both clucky with their chickadees. As for me, I like making high end business deals. I like to SHAKE this industry up. I'll leave the artist pandering to them ;) (I love them too.) As part of our duty here we brought the Songsalive! CD 7 to Austin. We've been doing compilation samplers every year for the last 7 years of our existence and they've always been highly successful. Our current Sampler is a cool peachy yellow color and the graphics by Stephen Kiely are really comic Ad eye grabbing, so everyone wanted a sampler! We had to get fussy because they would have all gone in an hour if we let them grab willy nilly. We started sticky taping them to the table and even then some people would sit there forcing them off the table wondering why they were so heavy. It was funny to watch. We also represented 13 Songsalive! members at the conference, with their full length CDs, soliciting them to industry peeps who might further their careers. I felt this was also very fruitful because we had some awesome meetings with some labels, radio stations, publishers, online companies and tour agents. I think, for our artists, a job well done. Not only that but we are starting an Austin Chapter. Yay! We've sprung quite a few chapters around the country, and Austin was an anomaly for a while. So we're really excited by that. www.songsalive.org for more. You'll get hooked. So during the days of Thurs and Fri we spent at the Austin Convention Center at SXSW. It was a maze of booths, panel discussions and people everywhere. Thurs night we drove out of town a bit to Hank Sinatra's place to record my television appearance for the Austin Music Network. Think: high tech video recording studio meets country boy boonies-ville. This was a real trip and one of the highlights of my Texas journey this time around. Hank's house is a typical farm house in the sticks. His "cameramen" wandered up the road in their checkered shirts, cowboy hats, boots and cigarettes... and completely blew me away with their amazingly professional camera work. They had the stage set up outside with Xmas tree lights and some mood lighting. Richard May (organizer) said "we have to wait till the sun sets more before we film... we need just the right light and reflection." Well ok.... So we waited. And it was totally worth it. They organized a keyboard for me and I had a two camera shoot with Hank upstairs in the living room switching and recording. The dogs were there, the cats were there, the beer was popped, the locals cruised over for a gander. the crickets began. It was intimate, and down to earth. It reminded me of a bunch of my parents friends in Wollombi Australia getting together for a smoke and a film production. High tech outback! No airs, no pretence, just art printed on film. Way to go! I watched the tape after and I couldn't have asked for a better video. And the following night it went to air on Channel 15 also on the web at www.austinmusicnetwork.com (should be airing over the next 4 weeks too.) Friday day I got a chance to sit with Chaz and Rob and be interviewed for TexasRadio1.com. This station is really, really cool as it allows independent Texas artists to get airplay and the station is funded through advertising. We'll be tying them in with Songsalive! to offer our Texan members to get priority airplay. It's a cool thing. Chaz is an extravert and is really cool on air. We got on well. He asked me about my music and album, and the whole warrior girl ethos, plus we connected about giving artist opportunities and the internet being the vehicle to do it. Toni videoed the interview and at the same time we had dozens of peeps swarming the booth wanting, wanting, ;panting ("this is gilli MOON? Wow she's in Texas? That's her? She's so... normal looking." Um, yeah. what do you expect, me in skin tight leathers and doube decker black mascara like Sheryl Crow or Avril Lavigne? Not me baby. In fact when I rocked up to the Australian music booth they claimed I looked like a hippy. Yay, I'm finally breaking free!) The exhibition hall was so busy, almost too busy! I went and got a soy latte to calm my excitement. (What's with conferences charging over $5 for a simple coffee? It's like airports. Every airport has to mark up the prices. Jeez). By 3pm Toni and I walked 8 blocks down to Oslo's where Madalyn had a GoGirlsMusic Invasion of SXSW panels and concerts. Oslo's is a trendy bar that serves canapes and martinis and had swinging chairs that hung by chains from the ceiling. The blonde lanky waitress' name was Barbie. You get the picture. I was invited to speak about touring the States with fellow Just-As-Addicted-To-The-Road-As-Me female artists Christene LeDoux, Rachael Sage and Emily Zuzik. Mailing lists; use online discussion groups to book; don't be afraid to pick up the phone; Breaking even is just as important as making money cos you won't make money touring; relationships are all important. yaddayaddayadda. I might write an article about it so stay tuned to my Prose page on gillimoon.com. I was going to play Rachael's keyboard but she was running tight for time for her next gig so I played Christene's guitar and did by 5th ever live performance on guitar (1. Vancouver Canada 2003, 2. Woodland Hills CA 2004 3. North Hollywood CA 2005 4. My living room house concert 2004.) I played "evolution" off the new record. Always cracks a laugh especially when it's obvious it's totally about me and my poor excuse for being single, not married and not having 2.3 children, a dog and a cat and a house in the suburbs. The new album version is totally cool with sushi guitar noises, my own beat box vocals doing drums and bass and drums done by beating chopsticks on a piano stool. Friday night after a full day of conferencing, Toni and I stayed in to watch movies. A night off. Phew. I tried to have a bath but the water just kept escaping down the drain. Instead, we found a greasy Mexican joint down the highway (not a fun walk) but the salsa was hot and awesome. We taught the waitress how to say "lemon" and "lime". "Lemon is the yellow one. Le-mon is long. Yell-ow is long word. Lime is Green one. Lime short, green short.Yeah" "Oh grazias lemon lime. si. Got it." By the time I awoke on Saturday I was as sick as a dog. I couldn't get out of bed. I didn't know if it was the hotel air, drinking the scary water, or the slimy shrimp taco from last night, but all I wanted to do was laze in bed all day and feel sorry for myself (I even cried and said "I want my mummy". Why is it that it's when we are sick we appreciate our mums?) Unfortunately lying in bed was not to be... I had to host the GoGirls Music "Love on the Lawn" showcase of 8 female artists, including myself. "Love" is a cute bric a brac store in a converted house on a slope near a road in the outskirts of downtown opposite a school for the deaf. Quaint. I knew we weren't going to be too loud for anyone. (That was lame Gilli). I didn't think at first that it was the ideal place for a stage and performances, but in the space of an hour the entire lawn was full of audience members, mostly from the conference, who all came to check out the GIRLS invading the traditional boys-town music week. With a frog in my throat I introduced the artists, all from various cities around the U.S. What a treat. By the time it was my turn to perform, I kicked back and did only 3 tunes so i didn't lose my voice completely, and left the rest of the afternoon for the gals to strut their stuff. In similar Sydney summer's day fashion the blue skies clouded over and in one quick zip we had a massive thunder storm which wiped out our festivities. But we all scrambled inside the store and continued on acoustically. The storm ended up with the most beautiful rainbow. Even the redneck cowboys with beer in the hands said "awww." Sat night came around quickly and off we went to the Hickory Street Bar and Grill for my final performance in the South West this time around. I was so ill. My throat was sore, my head was sore, and all i wanted to do was sleep. But I mustered it up like all good warrior girls should, and set up on stage, thanks to Merel Breganti, an old friend of Toni's, who not only organized the gig, set up a keyboard for me, but ended up playing drums for me. I'm not big on sports bars, and anytime I see a tv playing football in the background I cringe. BUT, I have to admit that this was a great gig. I even had a waterfall beside me. I played a few solo and then Merel came up and we hashed out "Woman", "Stillness", and "Release Me" (new one coming on the new album) together. Obviously we'd never played together before but we hit it off perfectly and we went into some cool alternative edgy breakdowns with him wailing on the snare and me doing my escapades on the keyboard. I forgot for a moment that I was feeling sick. But after 45 mins my throat was starting to show in my voice so I humbly ended the show and went off to sign autographs and mingle. I met the most outstanding american indian called Willy Whitefeather who, when I got off stage, told me I was Janis Joplin reincarnated for this new generation. I was blown away. "Your energy, your hair, your aura, everything you say, your passion, you are Janis." Well.... ok then..... I should get sick more often and keep my husky voice! He assured me he liked me sober though unlike Janis. I said, "well that's good because my friends have been trying to get me to like dope but i just can't lead the rock n roll life even if i tried. I like to pretend though." Hee hee. Then he began to tell me about the end of war, and all about peace, how the Navajo indians knew what Bush was going to do, how the planet is in misalignment, how we need to heal the earth how war backwards is raw how how...... I needed to pee badly. But I listened and I really dug this man. He reminded me of Wiffo, my aussie Aboriginal friend. They should meet and share notes. By 1am i was exhausted, feeling like all three characters from the Wizard of Oz, scarecrow without a brain (i was brain dead), tin man without a heart, (my lungs ached and my throat was like a steam train had driven through me), and i had no courage to face another day. I was a zombie. I watched a few "praise the lord" bible belt texans on local tv before i fell into a deep sleep. Sunday morning was like climbing out of a deep dark well not able to get out of the water. Can I just sleep a few hours more? I said at 11am. Boy was I under the weather. But it was our last day and I had to get up because we were going to have brekky with Willy Whitefeather, Merel Brigante and Sarah Pierce, Deb Flanagan and Doug Watkins from etunz. We hit Magnolias Cafe for more Mexican fair, (I'll never tire of spinach enchiladas) and surprisingly i was cognizant yet barely speaking. I must have sung my voice box out into the Austin air last night. Merel and I started talking about touring and how wonderful it would be to go on the road together. We also chatted about the Italian tour scene, which i will be endeavoring end of June, and of course that led to the best conversation: Italian pasta.... which towns around Milan, Brescia, Verona had the best pumpkin ravioli etc (of course I told him my grandmother lived in Bergantino and nothing compared to their restaurant's home cooking!) Doug and I chatted about creating a back end for Songsalive! so our members could update their own profiles, create epks and we could have our own internet radio station. He is very smart and invents so many things. He used to work for Boeing. It's amazing we can all keep up with him. Doug and Willy kept up with each other. We all went for a walk to the lake just to feel the first day of spring sunshine. Willy began to draw planetary alignments in the dirt and gave me a white feather to look at the moon. He says if you look at a full moon through a white feather you see a rainbow, the full spectrum of colors. He lives in the back of his van and travels. I'm going to call him "walkabout willy" from now on ;) We got to the Austin airport by 5pm and were happy and sad at the same time. I was happy to get home and recover. I was sad to leave my new friends in Austin and I'm bound to return sooner rather than later. Kelly Z from Kelly's Lot (great L.A artist, friend, and spokesperson for Hep C awareness campaigns) sat with us on the plane and we all spilled our delight over our trip (I gurgled throatily and heartily, Toni and Kelly laughed and chatted.) Big thanks to Deb Flanagan, the boys from etunz/RadioTexas1, Madalyn Sklar from GoGirlsMusic.com, the folks at Hank Sinatras Songwriter show on AustinMusicnetwork.org, Sean Agnew from Blue Metallic Group, Toni Koch my right hand gal champion, and austin raised Brian, a boy i've still yet to date but hope to (wink ;), who gave me the lead for Guerros Mexican Restaurant which started our trip off perfectly. All was silent and extraordinary as we flew over the Arizona desert into the night, back to my home of now, Hollywood.