April 12, 13, 14 & 15:
Today is April 16, and I am writing from the comfort of my bed at Jesse’s folk’s house outside of Philly. Our plane touched down on American soil about an hour ago, and we are sinking in. It feels GOOD to be home! The whole experience would not be complete without my summarizing the last days of our tour. 85 days. Wow! I mostly kept up with my blog writing on this tour, and this was the longest stretch of days I went without logging anything, so I very much hope I can remember how the last days unfolded…
On the 12th, we toured the countryside of northern Ireland with Raymond and Wendy. The most memorable part was probably hiking to the waterfall. I cannot remember the name of this waterfall. Ah - so it is. One of these days I will post pictures, and they will include snaps of the gorgeous waterfall.
On the 13th, I awoke to the most wonderful news. Wendy and Raymond’s landlord Robin had arranged for me to cuddle some lambs. As Wendy would say, Oh happy day!!! We drove out to the farm of a man called John, and were met by his son and their two pet lambs, Snowy (say: Snoo -way) and Hammy (say: Homm-ay). I am so happy to have photographic and video evidence of this great moment in my life. I can’t exactly explain my connection with lambs, but it certainly began as an infant when I received my very first toy - a stuffed lamb (called Lamby). I also had a favorite booked called “The Little Lamb” which featured wonderful 1970s era photos and which told the story of a girl who had a lamb as a pet and had to bring it back to the farm once it got too big to keep at home. This turns out to be something that inevitably happens. Once lambs get to be about four months old they become strong and rough and must be sold off, I cannot express the extreme joy I felt interacting with these animals. I got to bottle feed them, hold them, kiss them… I will never forget it!
After The Cuddling of the Lambs, we all headed northeast to the Giants Causeway, It is hard to describe what it is, so I recommend clicking THIS LINK. The weather began quite rough and we were pelted with rain and whipped about by the winds as we hiked in, but in true Irish fashion, moments later it was all blue sky without a cloud. More photos to come…
We said goodbye to Derry on the 14th, and headed to Dublin. We had a really fantastic show at The International Bar„ where we played a showcase to a packed house and were very well received with a standing ovation. We are very certain we can also return to Dublin and have a positive and more lucrative experience.
On the 15th we spent the day wandering around Dublin. We went to the Guiness Storehouse where the delicious “black stuff” is made, saw many gardens, and generally wandered around. The saga of how we barely made our way back to the place where we spent the night is another, and not so pleasant, story - perhaps one I’ll save for another day.
And today we had a very easy flight back to Philly. Nonstop. The eating of some surprisingly edible airplane food, plenty of rest time, and some good movies occupied our time on the six and a half hour flight. And now we’re back. Home, With gratitude. Jesse and I are going to take a bath, and then we will go out to dinner with Jesse’s folks - my last cooked meal before beginning my much anticipated raw food reset tomorrow. Yay! and tomorrow begins out two week vacation. It’s our first vacation since we began this adventure TWO YEARS AGO. Can you believe it? And we deserve it! Life is good.
What a wonderful house concert in Derry! The audience came out with loads of support, in spite of their typically Irish skepticism about something they had no clue about. House concerts are not a “thing” here, and nobody knew what to expect. It’s safe to say that next time we come through, there will be loads more people in attendance. As it was, it was a great, full crowd. We might have to rent a mansion next time!!
Wendy and Raymond were consummate hosts, and everyone had a fantastic time. The sound was gorgeous in their great room and with the help of a nice Bose PA (man, would we love one of those someday!) and I feel like the audience was fairly enchanted throughout the show, based on their after-show and intermission reactions. I had told Wendy that the magic of a house concert cannot be conveyed in words or on video. It’s so true. She didn’t know what I meant until after the show, when she echoed the sentiment. I don’t think she had any doubt it would be a “nice” experience, but as she said, she really had no idea about what we have to offer, especially in the house concert context. It’s quite likely that she hadn’t heard Jesse perform since high school, and she had never heard me before… As usual, we gave it our all. I have to say that it is not easy to perform with my characteristic abandon and enthusiasm when I am in so much pain, but I did my best and I don’t think anyone sensed what was going on with me. We talked, we laughed, and we got to know some truly wonderful human beings. Prior to this show, we were not so sure about coming back to Ireland as artists, but between this house concert and the one in Galway (house concerts to the rescue - again!) we know that we can make it work when we return, we think in the Summer of 2015. As we guessed might be true, Ireland is a place where you really benefit from just going and meeting people and making connections. For this part of the tour, and indeed for the entire tour I suppose. our goal was to plant some seeds, and boy did we ever! It is with a feeling of great promise and of knowing we will return soon, that we will depart this beautiful land.
Day 80. Wow! My plan was to have this entire day off, but I awoke to a huge website problem. Ugh. I spent the better part of the morning trying to fix the site, and ultimately found a simple solution, an idea suggested by my dear friend Jennifer. Wonderful to have an artistic, creative techie friend!
We then departed with Wendy for a little countryside adventure. We first went to An Grianán of Aileach, a ring fort that sits stunningly atop a giant hill in Donegal. This structure dates back before Christ’s birth and the road which runs through it to 3000 BCE! The name means “sunny place” and also describes a location with a view. And what a view! On a delightfully sunny day like we had, we could see for miles and miles in all directions.
Then, on our way to the beach, we came upon a big field of sheep and their babies. These fields are everywhere, but this one seemed particularly well populated, and it seemed we might be able to get quite close to the lambs, so we stopped the car to give it a try. Having struck out several times before, I approached very quietly and crouched down to try to prevent them from running far away. They were on the other side of a fence, but I hoped they might come close enough to pet. The alarmed mamas made a fuss, but didn’t run away this time. I waited patiently for them to approach, but of course they did not. Wendy suggested I put my hood up, which is lined with fake fur, thinking they might feel more comfortable if I appeared to be a furry animal. Amazingly, the mamas seemed to immediately, and even walked further away from their babies! The babies, by the way, were extra small and very adorable. Several were white, two were black, and one was white and brown. Sooooo cute! The next 15 minutes or so found all of us trying to perfect our lamb noises. We must have looked very silly there, all baa-ing away. Some of the sheep talked back to us and even looked at us rather suspiciously, but they did not come near. Finally, I tried to offer some grass and even a cookie, but to no avail. I will have to find another way to cuddle a lamb!
Onward to Lisfannon beach at
and conditions were perfect for a meditative walk along the shore collecting seashells. I also got a sloppy French kiss from a great big black dog!
It was then time to pick up Raymond from work and head back home, where I enjoyed a little rest and awoke to a delicious meal off the grill. After dinner, I headed to bed, knowing the next day would require a lot of energy and stamina. Another beautiful day in Ireland!
April 7, 8 & 9:
The past three days have been a blur, quite honestly. I’ve been experiencing a lot of neck pain and have seen a doctor and a physio therapist in Derry, but have been quite frustrated. Medications, which I hate to take, are keeping me comfortable. It will be interesting to see what two weeks off of the computer will do for this condition. Back in Philly, I’ll also be doing a lot of yoga, seeing an acupuncturist regularly and eating a raw diet, so I’m actually excited to see what the impact will be once all that is happening. Which is in a few short days! I cannot believe we are winding down this tour. I was telling Jesse this morning that it feels at the very same time as if we were just in Philly, not yet departed, and that it has been forever since we left. Funny how time plays tricks on you.
In the meantime, I’ve actually been having a lovely time here in Derry! Jesse’s friend Wendy and her husband Raymond are marvelous human beings and we’ve been having a blast together. I’ve been able to rest, see some of the gorgeous countryside and the awesome (“biggest little town”) Derry, and I’ve eaten some great food as well. I’ve also nearly completed all of my Europe pitching and scouting, which means I’m on track to have a genuine 2 week vacation when we’re back in Philly. Yes!
Friday night we have our house concert here, and I’m very excited about it. After that we’ll have two days off with Wendy and Raymond, and we’re going to do a bunch of sight seeing together in northern Ireland. It’s going to be so great to spend some of our last days here soaking up the beauty of this Emerald Island. I cannot wait!
As touring musicians, it can be difficult to find time to create. For us, the Artists in Residence experience solves this problem. Although some of our residencies are sponsored by Universities or foundations, we have found a way for our fanbase to offer this to us in the same spirit as the house concert.
To participate, individuals, small groups or organizations provide a peaceful and liveable place for us to create for anywhere from five days to one month. The space is used as a hub from which to play a minimal amount of shows in the region but first and foremost, the opportunity is used to relax into creation. Depending upon the length of the residency, we create works or bodies of work. We blog daily about our experience, work our craft, create recordings with our mobile recording studio and experience the community in which we’re stationed. We strive to allow our immediate experiences during the residency to inform the works we create - a sort of musical journal of our experiences. When works are published, included on albums, performed, or otherwise presented, we gratefully acknowledge the sponsors who made it happen.
Torch Lake, Bellaire MI Artists in Residence July 2014
The day began splendidly, with a sunny sky, puffy white clouds, and brilliant patches of blue. We were so thankful for the weather, so full of promise for our drive north. We got a late start, but it didn’t matter. With the day stretched in front of us, completely unplanned, we were free to follow our whims. Unfortunately, I awoke in a lot of physical pain, which made the drive far less pleasant for me. But nothing could keeo me from appreciating the extraordinary beauty of the diverse Irish landscape, and the sun felt soooo good. On the drive we were fairly silent for the most part, just taking in the scenery. We saw ocean, rivers, mountains, beaches, vast green fields, many Spring flowers, and more livestock. I am basically obsessed with the idea of cuddling a lamb. I have already enlisted Jesse’s friend Wendy, whom we are staying with in Derry, to find a local lamb that I can get cozy with.
We arrived at Wendy and her husband Raymond’s home in Derry in the late evening, and spent the rest of the night talking, eating, and relaxing. My pain had been escalating all day, and I was very lucky that Wendy had some medicine that helped a bit, and fortunate that she was also in touch with an assortment of healers that might be able to help me tomorrow. Despite the pain, I really loved this day. But I’m ready to sink into dreamland, and rest these weary bones.
April 4 & 5:
Galway is gorgeous, despite the rainy weather. We visited two castles! The vibe in these places is so mystical, I’ve become quite inspired to learn more about my Irish roots, especially the ancient, pre-Christian history. We visited a place called “Brigit’s Garden” which is a large garden with smaller gardens within it representing the Celtic festivals. They also have a lovely cafe, and we were there having lunch during a little girl’s birthday party. It was so nice to watch the little children playing, thoroughly enjoying themselves despite the drizzle. We then drove along the county Galway coast, viewing the strangely beautiful rugged landscape, all of the animals (everywhere!) and especially the cute baby ones, and of course the ocean. We stopped a few times, once to wade in the ocean and collect some shells. Looping back to Galway city, we met our house concert host and his family. This house concert took place at a cafe that is connected to a plant nursery, owned by dear family friends of our hosts. The place was beautifully appointed, with candles everywhere in the tiny space. We had a lovely audience and the promise of more shows when we return. In Ireland, they really need to see and hear you to get what you’re about, and there is the very real issue of making money here. I love that everyone in Ireland has a talent, very often musical, and that it’s part of the culture to share your talent. When people get together, often after a pub show at someone’s house, everyone has a “party piece,” which is a “piece” representing some kind of talent, to share with everyone. If you aren’t musical, you’ll recite a poem or dance or something that. So wonderful, right? I really do love this way of being. But at the same time, because these talents are so prevalent, the idea of really making a living doing music here is fairly much unheard of. Musicians have day jobs, (not so different from the US, I suppose) many of them teaching. However, our host Richie, now having heard what we do, has said that given enough notice he can set us up with some very nice gigs next time. And we also had a chance at this concert to really get a feel for what Irish people think of our music. Not unlike in the other European countries, what we do seems very unusual (in a good way!) and unique and charming to these folks. That is definitely a wonderful thing, and bodes well for a return trip.
April 2 & 3:
The highlight on the 2nd was going to the town of Clonakilty to play our first show in Ireland. Although we had some things going against us, (namely that there was no sound system and the place was loud) it was a good way to spend an evening. De Barra is quite a famous club, and the atmosphere was wonderful! Jimi Hendrix’s bass player Noel Redding settled in Clonakilty and was good friends with the pub’s owner. The walls are covered with a lot of his personal memorabilia, which he either gave to the owner or sold to him during tough times. We also learned that Roy Harper lives down the road and often pops in, though he did not on this particular night. They treated us very kindly, put us up for the night, and encouraged us to check out the town the next morning, which we did. We walked around and learned a bit about its history and then drove up the road to check out an ancient stone circle. Really magical! There are thousands of ancient stone monuments in Ireland, and many were used for ritual purposes. Out on the misty countryside, it is very easy to imagine those mysterious times so long ago.
On returning to Cork, we accomplished much booking work. I remind myself that this is all for a good purpose - those two weeks off in April will feel so good! And we ended our work day by talking to a studio owner in Philly about recording our live album in April. So exciting! He was really generous with us because he so wants to work with us, and we have a good feeling about what will come out of these sessions. It’s a bit of a dream to do a live album. His enthusiasm for what we’re doing got us even more excited about it. And it was very cool when one of his associates popped into the Skype call and told us that he randomly heard our record while touring in Germany! He had visited Alex, the owner of “The Manor” (as we call it) in Berlin where we stayed, and our CD had been sitting on his shelf. Alex told the band that they had to hear “this great record from these Americans who stayed here” and showed them the CD. How cool is that?
We got up early today and caught our bus to Cork. This was a fun bus ride through beautiful countryside! I especially enjoyed listening to Irish accents. And the attitudes behind the accents! These Irish people are really funny and charming. And kind. When we first got on the bus, I had Jesse’s cup of oatmeal in the outside pocket of my backpack and without realizing it, I spilled a bunch in the bus aisle. By the time I noticed what was happening I’d made quite a mess. I asked the driver if he had a napkin but he didn’t. Then a sweet lady gave us some napkins from her purse and even helped us to clean up the mess. She also offered us a section of her newspaper (“It’s only the faaaarming section. Ye won’t need it!”) to put on the sticky seat where a few drops of the porridge had fallen. I have experienced and witnessed this sort of kindness numerous times in the short span of time since this incident.
After a few bus transfers we found ourselves at the Cork airport to pick up our rental car. It seems all the rules are slightly different in Ireland, so it took longer than usual, but we were soon off to our Couchsurfing home in Cork. To our absolute delight we found that the place we’re staying is directly above a food co-op and vegetarian restaurant. After several days of somewhat bad eating in England, we were very happy to have wholesome food so close. We had a nice lunch in the restaurant and then met our Couchsurfing host, a lovely Swedish lady named Maja. We sat around for a while and talked. One great thing about Couchsurfing is you get to hear about why people love their town. Maja came here four years ago from Sweden, fell in love with the town, and has been living here ever since. She says she loves how open and relaxed the Irish people are compared to the people in her homeland. And what a place she has! She calls it “shabby” but it’s very nicely appointed and the views of the city center and the river Lee are fantastic.
I was exhausted, so I rested while Jesse walked around town for a while, and when he returned we decided to go for a walk to find some dinner. When we returned we relaxed and watched some of our favorite new show. I won’t tell you what it is - it’s TV at it’s delightful, shameful worst/best!