Thursday 22 November 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

It's definitely not the same spending an American holiday in Ireland, but I can't complain. We're in Monaghan tonight, near the border with Northern Ireland, at a very cool pub called McKenna's. The last few days have been full of spectacular scenery, unusual weather and some of the nicest people in the world. Jess was so inspired, that she wrote about it on her blog, Wanderlost.  I thought it was pretty awesome, so I'm re-posting it. Enjoy!

Giving Thanks
Thanksgiving 2012. . . sitting in a pub in Monaghan, Ireland.  Josh and I just had a Thanksgiving "feast" of cheap, mediocre Chinese food in the empty restaurant next door. I couldn't be more thankful.
We're already nearly 6 weeks into our 9 week European tour, which is just the beginning of a year-long mega tour. I have been meaning to write for all of this time, but just haven't found the time/ energy/ inspiration/ wi-fi connection. Until now.
We've been having a fantastic time- after a month in England we're now into our second week in Ireland. Throughout our travels and Josh's gigs we've met dozens of truly wonderful people. No one in either of these countries has made us feel like an outsider. However, it can be really exhausting, mentally and physically, traveling nearly every day, sleeping in other peoples' houses (sometimes strangers) or dusty hotel rooms. And since Josh has a show almost every night, the late-night pub culture is especially tiring. I certainly can't complain, though, because I don't have to entertain people night after night like he does (I also don't do any of the driving. . .).
I had been feeling really fatigued the last week or so, like all of this traveling and socializing and late-night partying was starting to catch up to me all at once. But yesterday, in the remote west coast town of Clifden, was a turning point. Two extraordinary events caused me to reflect on why I chose to go along with this year of touring (besides doing it for Josh's career), and why I am so grateful to be where I am.
After checking in to the Abbeyglen hotel, a converted castle-come-hotel that we got a really, really good off-season deal on, Josh and I went into the lobby for tea and a warm fire. Within a few minutes of sitting down, we were joined by a much older gentleman who was having tea and asked if he could join us. His name is Tom Conelly and he has lived in Clifden his whole life, though he's traveled all over the world. He told us that for 5 or 6 decades he has helped tourists who come to Ireland find their Irish ancestors and sometimes living relatives. Five years ago, he and his wife took a trip to Wisconsin where Tom's aunt had immigrated a century ago. They were greeted by something like 150 distant relatives, who all wanted to meet their Irish family. This was the last big trip Tom took. His wife died a couple years later, and since then he says he can't bring himself to leave Clifden. He tried to describe why traveling by himself just isn't possible. . . the most touching thing he said was that if he went somewhere and his collar was messed up, there would be no one there to fix it. I think traveling was probably something that he and his wife had always enjoyed doing together, and it just seemed wrong and pointless for him to travel without her. This made me tear up, of course, and also reminded me of how lucky I am to get to travel all over the world with Josh. We've had so many adventures over the years that now on the rare occasion that I go on a trip without him, it feels terribly wrong. This is why, when months ago he brought up the idea of giving up our apartment and touring for a year, I didn't hesitate. Home isn't necessarily where you keep your things, after all.
So after this interesting tea-time conversation, we said our goodbyes to Tom, who had just remembered that he was supposed to be at a funeral. Besides, we had to get to dinner and then to Josh's gig at the Boathouse Club. This unique venue was kind of out of the way- down a tiny country road (which we drove in complete darkness), on the water. However, there was a good crowd of about 25-30 people who were really excited for the first ever music performance at the Boathouse. About 10 minutes into the show, a sudden lightning storm started up. It was a beautiful, dramatic backdrop to Josh's performance, and probably rivaled him for people's attention. Then Josh took a set brake, during which there was a loud crack and all the lights went out! Luckily, there were already candles on most of the tables, and the room was so small that Josh didn't really need a PA system. So we  decided that the show would go on. . . unplugged. Peter, the bartender, and Simon, the manager, hurriedly put out more candles and everyone huddled around the small fireplace in the corner of the pub. The show was already going well, but this new intimate setting made it great. Suddenly, there was a real sense of community- all of us coming together, against the elements, for the love of music. This is the second reason I am on this journey with Josh. Despite the fact that there have been days where I just want to put on pj's, crawl into my own bed and not talk to anyone, there are also days like this where unexpected things happen and I end up in a beautiful place with wonderful people and a real sense of belonging, thousands of miles from home.


Tuesday 20 November 2012

8 Days a Week

Monday, November 19th 2013, 6:51p.m Garrykennedy, Portroe  Nenagh, Co. Tipperary Ireland

Today was the first day off in 8 days and I've welcomed it with open arms. What did we do on a day off you ask? Well I'm glad to tell you.....we did this.
                                the new Irish tour vessel...

And it was cool enough to warrant more pictures.
                                the co-pilot

How did we do this you ask? Well, I've spent the last few days playing shows with Ted O'Connor whom I met last year at Larkins and we were able to put a few dates together for the tour this year. And, it just so happens that Ted is a pilot and also happens to own a Bell 407(a 7 passenger commercial helicopter). I'm thinking this will be transport for the next tour here in Ireland.

So this last run started in Dublin where I was able to finally get the guitar sorted out with the help of an emergency shipment of Waverly machine heads(tuners) from the States via some top level management from Josh Harty Inc. We then headed out with the whole company team via Qashqai to Ballymore Eustace for an evening of music at Mick Murphy's Stage Inn. Thanks Roy Thompson for a great night! Thanks to the Ballymore Inn for the chowder.

We then headed south to County Wexford, Wexford Town and the Sky & the Ground for the Candlelight Sessions. From the moment I walked into the place I knew it was going to be fantastic. The place looked amazing, the staff was amazing, and Ha Ha Tonka had been there the previous week. I also grasped the opportunity to teach them the gospel according to the Weary Traveler Freehouse.

We then drove from the southeast of Ireland to the more northwest of Ireland and found ourselves in Galway for a house concert with our great friend Brid. Next day we motored to Camus which is in Connemara and also one of the coolest landscapes I've ever seen. Bogs, rock, and peat moss....gorgeous.  Connemara is perhaps the most Irish speaking regions in Ireland and you know it as soon as you get there. The cadence of the language is incredibly smooth and hovers beautifully in a room. The show was followed by a traditional Irish session and it turned out nearly everyone who came to the show was a musician. Awesome. 

This brings us to Tipperary, the McGraths(our incredible hosts who are amazing and welcome us kindly via Mr. Tim Quigley), more wonderful shows, Ted O'Connor and the helicopter, chopper, or Huey....whichever you prefer. 

Until then......

Sunday 4 November 2012

Cathedrals, Craigs, and Castles....Oh My.

 Wow. Scotland. Forgive my language, but…damn. Scotland. We’ll back up a bit though to Liverpool.
In the last episode of "Wiskota Comes To The UK" we left you at Peter and Gabi's just before the show. Well, that was an incredible evening of music with the Good Intentions whom you can check out by clicking here. No wait, here. The next day we went to the Liverpool Cathedral-The total external length of the building, including the Lady Chapel, is 189 metres (620 ft) making it the second longest cathedral in the world; its internal length is 146 metres (479 ft). In terms of overall volume, Liverpool Cathedral ranks as the fifth-largest cathedral in the world[1] and contests the title of largest Anglican church building alongside the incomplete Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City.[2] With a height of 100.8 metres (331 ft) it is also one of the world's tallest non-spired church buildings and the third-tallest structure in the city of Liverpool  Where would we be without Wikepedia?!  We also went to the Philaharmonic which is a great pub in Liverpool that boasts marble facilities. Pretty awesome.
even from afar, it barely fits in the viewfinder. . .

October 28th found us at the Greystones in Sheffield with the lovely Daughter of Frank (and man can she sing) and Socrates Johnson. Nice show and thanks to Craig and Wagon Wheel Media for bringing us back again. Oh, and should you find yourself in Sheffield be prepared for an plethora of Chinese restaurants and trams.

York is a great city it was nice to be there in a working capacity this time. We got to the Fulford Arms a bit early and planned to go somewhere to eat before the show....before we knew that they cooked up some of the best locally sourced home cooked food you can find in Yorkshire. We also had the privilege of meeting/hearing Dave Keegan who was also playing that night. Do yourself a favor and look him up. Or heck,  just click here and take a listen.
the best pub food ever at the Fulford Arms
after-show jam with Dave & friends

Last year the Barrels Ale House in Berwick-upon-Tweed  led me to playing a 1936 Gibson Advanced Jumbo which had just been played Mark Knopfler. And I am pleased to announce that the same thing happened again this year. We had a great show and afterwards went over to Dave's house and the whole thing played out pretty much the same as the last time....the pool room, music, guitars, Laphroaig and good times.
back at Dave's in Berwick

Ashington Folk Club in Ashington was super great and we can't wait to go back.

This brings us to Arbroath Scotland, Hospitalfield(it's pretty much a big deal) and Andy Spiller. Three parts of awesome to create one big awesome. Andy sorted the show and also opened the night with a killer set. There was a great crowd, the sound was awesome(thanks Andy & Gary), and it ended as the best show on the tour thus far.

Last night at Douglas Robertson's was also fantastic even though it was the second time in nearly 12 years that I didn't play my guitar. The first time was at the Shitty Barn a few years back when I met Brian and played one of his Yarhara guitars because it was awesome. This time didn't work out quite the same. First off, I'd replaced the machine heads on my guitar just before I left for the UK and was talked out of getting the expensive ones. That won't happen again. Just before the show I was changing strings and one of the machine heads imploded turning my guitar in a 5 string. Luckily, Douglas made a phone call and twenty minutes later a friend of his showed up with a Huss and Dalton guitar.  Great guitar but there was a bit of trouble in the first set getting the guitar to work with the sound system. Once that issue was sorted out the show was awesome.
sunset hike up the craigs in Edinburgh

 We're staying in Edinburgh for an extra night so I can visit the guitar doctor in the morning and hanging out at Douglas's house.  I think he's cooking.

take care, talk soon.