Samantha Crain Blogs About Cayamo

Samantha Crain“Hey! It’s Samantha Crain. Can’t wait for this Cayamo Cruise to set sail! I’ve never been on a cruise, or even on a boat that isn’t in a river or on a lake, so I’m a little nervous but mostly excited. Like most of you, I’m honored to be playing in the same event as legendary greats like Emmylou Harris (Emmylou, my doggy is named after you) and Lyle Lovett, but I’m also really looking forward to seeing some artists whose music I’m just discovering like Brandi Carlile and Lissie. It’ll also be good to catch up with some people I’ve played shows with in the past like Katie Herzig, members of Works Progress Administration, and, of course, my twin sister Rachael Yamagata! Rachael and I had a lot of fun being little/big sister versions of each other on the Hotel Cafe tour last winter so hopefully we won’t confuse anyone again…

I hear there are going to be theme nights?! My mind can only help but sorta go crazy on this one….I don’t know what kind of theme nights they have but I really hope there is like an alien or UFO or future-type theme night…That would really bowl me over!  Well, I’m really looking forward to all this and I’ve met some people out on the road at shows this year who are coming and some who have been before and they’ve made sure to let me know I’m going to have a blast!”


Punxsutawney Who?

Yesterday was Groundhog Day, and as a coworker pointed out, so what? There are always six more weeks of winter, and no one takes the day off or does any raucous celebrating. The only entertaining thing I personally associate with Groundhog Day is the brilliant Bill Murray movie. Sure, it’s aired constantly, but it never gets old for me, no matter how often it’s repeated – just like the day in the movie!

Luckily I never have to worry about repetitive days here at Sixthman HQ. My days are never exactly the same as any other… Heck, we don’t even sit at the same desk everyday anymore – it’s awesome! I know that not everyone is as lucky as us, though, and your work days may feel identical. You may feel like you’re in a rut or at a dead end. I’ve been there, I get it.

I don’t have any cool advice like Lisa did about making your job fun, but I can offer this: don’t get down! Life is always changing, and soon you’ll probably be on a sunny cruise ship listening to your favorite bands with the Sixthman staff looking after you.

So bundle up for the next six weeks of winter but think happy thoughts about the Caribbean and put on “Where The Boat Leaves From” (congrats to Zac Brown Band on their Grammy win!)… see you soon!


Guest Post from Daniel of Bloodkin

This is a guest post from Daniel Hutchens of Bloodkin, written while cruising on the Simple Man Cruise 2010 last week.  The floor is yours Daniel!

January 21, 2010
3:00 PM
onboard the cruise ship Inspiration
docked in Tampa FL

Kristy and I just got settled into our cabin here, and the rest of the Bloodkin guys have found their rooms elsewhere…we’re playing the “Lynyrd Skynyrd Simple Man Cruise”, five days onboard, to Cozumel, Mexico, and back…which will mark the first time I’ve ever been to Mexico. Eric and I used to talk about beating it to Mexico and having crazed adventures in the tradition of Kerouac and Burroughs…but those trips never materialized. Also back when I was touring with Moe Tucker, and Sterling Morrison at the time lived in Texas, and he and I were making vague plans that “sometime” I’d come down and visit, and he’d take me into Mexico to see some ancient Mayan ruins…but then Sterling got sick, and so that trip never happened either.

Now, when this cruise docks in Cozumel, they’re offering a ferry to the mainland, and a trip to see some Mayan ruins. Kristy and I are planning to go…better late than never.

January 22, 2010
10:15 AM
onboard the Inspiration, en route to Cozumel

This morning we’re just about smack dab in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico; tomorrow morning we’ll be docking in Cozumel. Last night was foggy and wind-whipped––this morning is bright and clear and the sea a shimmering royal blue, and the sky more a pale milky bluewhite…earlier Kristy and I walked to the extreme forward observation deck and watched the nose of the vessel slicing through the waves, extreme wind making us lean to retain balance…

Last night Bloodkin played our first set of the cruise, on the Lido Deck––but no, we didn’t play “Lido Shuffle”, though the thought did cross my mind. It was a fair set to a fair crowd, picking up steam as we rolled along––the first time all six of us (with both Tonks and Martino at the same time) have played together in several months. Cool to get all the spices a-bubbling in the same pot together again––but I look forward to tonight’s latenight set in the Candlelight Lounge; I think last night we tuned up the engine, tonight we’ll rev ‘er up.

January 24, 2010
6:35 AM
en route from Cozumel back to Tampa

Just waking up, and just watched the sun rise from the sea out our cabin window…Kristy and I will head up for breakfast in a few minutes.

Last night our whole entourage took in The Outlaws out on the Lido Deck… “Green Grass And High Tides”, “Ghost Riders In The Sky”, and a bunch of songs I’ve never heard, but, man, they were excellent…I’ve certainly never “studied” them before, but they have more of a pop songwriting bent than most of the old-school Southern Rock outfits, mixed in with an absolutely top-shelf dual-lead-guitar attack and precise harmonies…I was duly impressed and have decided to quit Bloodkin and follow The Outlaws around on tour. Well…maybe not.

The only act I’ve seen on the cruise so far who outgunned The Outlaws were Hill Country Revue, who I caught the previous night in the Candlelight Lounge (right before Bloodkin played, which turned out to be fun but sparsely attended; we indeed revved ‘er up a notch, but were sunk by competing performances…ah well)…but Hill Country Revue features Cody Dickinson on guitar, and anything I’ve seen Cody (or Luther Dickinson) involved with, absolutely rocks…no surprise, as Cody and Luther are the sons of the late Jim Dickinson, a monumental rock icon, who was also a brilliant pad-roducer and bad-ass keyboard player, and he also happened to be a personal hero of mine––so I may be a tad bit biased here, but hey, I never claimed I wasn’t––but anyway, the Revue killed it, they were no-nonsense downhome Mississippi boogie n swagger, catch ‘em anytime you have a chance and they’ll damn sure deliver the goods, you have my personal guarantee…they’ll make you feel like you just knocked back a swaller of pristine Mississippi moonsnine, then got kicked in the head by a supernatural muse of a mule.

I haven’t yet caught my old Athens acquaintance Kevn Kinney and the rest of the Drivin n Cryin boys, but I’ve received rave reviews, heard tell they’re in top form and rockin’ harder than ever, which I’m certain is true. Hope to catch them later tonight.

9:40 AM
So yesterday Kristy and I ventured onto the island of Cozumel. Our guided tour to the Mayan ruins was canceled “due to not meeting the minimum number of participants”…so we were left to our own devices.

We quickly made our way through the tourist-trap giftshop strip mall built right around the dock, and got out into the streets proper. We talked to a few “guided tour” representatives and before long secured the services of a very helpful taxi driver named Elias. He gave us a personalized tour of the island…we saw beautiful stretches of beach, I mean I was fairly stunned at the raw beauty of undeveloped sand n surf, amazing scenery, and if I can use the term “vibe” or whatever, it got to me, and I really want to return to Cozumel someday and bring the kids along…we saw great “kiddie pool” areas on the beaches, little wading pools naturally barricaded from the surf by rock formations, little Mexican kids happily frolicking in the crystal clear blue water…one such “kiddie pool” was about half a mile from a thatched-roof establishment called “Hotel Ventanas Al Mar”, a ridiculously scenic spot…Elias told us the hotel was used frequently for location shoots for Mexican films; I could see why…I’m fantasizing already about staying there a week or so, a big family vacation…

On a beach called “Punta Sur” Kristy and I came across a huge iguana, sunning himself atop a 6-foot stack of stones, and he was so still and poised and perfect, that at first I thought he was some sort of stone sculpture…but he was real, alive, seemed ancient and mystically wise and the undisputed steward of that shoreline…

Then later we came across a cool, no-frills little beachside bar called “Senor Iguana’s”, so of course we had to check it out. It was one of several joints we saw that struck me as beautiful places to get lost––slow, even timeless little Mexican joints––where the barflies just appear like driftwood, suck down a few ice-cold Sols and just gaze down the shore dreaming, hypnotized by the waves rolling in and out…

We also noticed tiny concrete dollhouse-sized shrines along the road, turned out to be the Mexican equivalent of “crosses by the highway” in America, little memorials to people who have died along that particular stretch of road…and these little shrines are variously painted, inscribed with the name of the departed and facts about their life––I stopped and photographed one such shrine to a man named Hector Arredondo.

So the bottom line is, Cozumel struck me as incredibly scenic and “fun in the sun” gorgeous, but also somehow a bit poetically mystical, even a little sad at moments, but genuine, and possessing some kind of secret I’d someday love to come back and investigate.

But for the time being we’re back on the boat, with one more full day of heavy-duty Southern Rock awaiting us. Do I love Southern Rock? Well, officer…you got me dead to rights. Rock n roll sure did save my life at a pretty young age…and really, to quote Duane Allman, “The term ‘Southern Rock’ is redundant.”

Daniel Hutchens
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The Audience & The Message

Two people walk into a restaurant….One of them for the first time and the other for the tenth time. The 1st timer wants to try the signature dish and the 10th timer wants to sit at their favorite table, chat with the owner for a minute and try the new special.

Two fans go to see the Zac Brown Band….One of them for the first time and the other for the tenth time. The 1st timer wants to hear the hit and get an autograph while the 10th timer wants to hear the band play a new song and try a different arrangement on another song.

Two guests sail on The Rock Boat….one for the first time and the other for the tenth. The 1st timer wants to meet Sister Hazel and the 10th timer wants to see Sister Hazel do a puppet show.

Picture 1

The fact that one of them has returned ten times lets you know that it is a great experience and the arrival of the 1st timer lets you that you have an opportunity to help them begin their journey to the tenth time.

So what do you do? You can’t give out two menus, play two set lists or visit two different ports.

We are working on something we call “The Audience & The Message” where we segment each cruise into small groups. For The Rock Boat, we have the following:
A – Virgins (sailing with us for the first time)
B – Alumni (sailed with us one or two times)
C – Pioneers (sailed with us three, four or five times)
D – Jackets (sailed with us six, seven, eight or nine times)
E – Lifers (sailed 10 more times)

If you think about it, these are all unique audiences that require a different message, approach and acknowledgment. Our goal is to define all the possible moments one may experience during The Rock Boat and highlight the ones most likely to resonate with each group. I am so excited and believe this will help us acknowledge and serve our guests in new and personal way.

Wish us luck….

Guest Post From Drivin’ N’ Cryin’

This is a guest post from Kevn Kinney of Drivin’ N’ Cryin’, written while on board Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Simple Man Cruise 2010.  The stage is yours Kevn:

Good morning sunshine
9,000 feet above the floor
my head is spinnin
not from the sea
but from the sounds of the next generation
blackberry smoke
runnin through my veins
hill country revue dancing in my head
high tide blues…
old school of fish
Bloodkin from my old hometown
Athens GA
It is no coincidence to me
This boat
It is a wonder
Get out of my comfort zone
And dig the inspiring sounds
On the sea
With the other 2000 folks
Roamin the deck
Lookin for a good conversation
A simple nod and a wink to that fella
I’ve passed a dozen times
a most awesome benefit concert
put together by Ricky Medlock
by far one of the coolest shows
to witness…I bear witness
to rumblin tumbling sounds
of the simple man cruise
like a f***in freight train
waves crashing off the bow
an honor indeed to be counted among one and all
rock on brothers and sisters
p.s. my friend Robert Kearns originally from the Bottle Rockets
on bass with skynyrd
Leon would be proud

Kevn Kinney
Drivin n cryin

Leading, Managing, and Being Your Best Buddy

middle-manager1When researching with Google, there are over 350,000,000 matches for leading, 150,000,000 for managing, and 31,000,000 for buddies.  So, no, this blog is not the most original item you’ll find.  However, it’s a good reminder, a learning experience that I’ve had, and possibly something that will be familiar to some of you out there.

At 23, I found myself as one of the youngest managers in a particular retail establishment.  My competition for the job was not very deep as it wasn’t the most desirable position and you had to have unique skills to be considered.  I wowed the district manager with my ideas for marketing and organization.  I eagerly proposed an outline to better sales and make more efficient employees.  I got the job with little to no experience in managing, thinking that it would be a breeze.  As many of you probably know, it’s not a breeze, by any means.

However, that has not been the most difficult challenge for me when it comes to leading.  Many things are predictable in an established environment with the basic business model.  More marketing = more money.  Rewards = happier employees.  Etcetera.

The challenge is figuring out how to work with people that don’t necessarily want to be managed and drawing the line between friendship and business relationship.  Hence leading becomes the operative word, and possibly why it comes up with the most hits on Google.

I learned that you can’t be best friends with your employees (they probably resent any effort you make to become buddies).  I learned that just asking someone to do something usually isn’t enough (they probably question your every motive).  You must inspire people.  Leading is about pushing people in the right direction, producing positive teamwork, and giving your team the tools to become better at what they do.

But wait, that’s not all, the most challenging leadership has been (wait for it…) being the captain of a team.  That’s right, I’m bringing it back to roller derby.  This situation is a little different.  Your team is not getting paid to work for you.  This is not your regular business model.  You do actually want to be friends with the people you skate with, and you also have to implement some of the same ideas you do in your everyday leadership position.  You can inspire people with your ability to skate, but how do you inspire them to work together, to find a common goal, to put aside that female pride and let someone lead?

Well, it’s tough.  But you can only learn by trial and error (and picking up a few books like Attitude 101, Teamwork 101, and The Everything Leadership Book).  I get inspired regularly by watching other people and learning about leadership.  So, I hope to find that this 2010 season will be the best leading I’ve done so far.  Not managing, while still making best buddies, and inspiring a group of very different women to come together and make something wonderful happen.  Something like winning a championship with hard work, dedication, and fun!