I was very excited to have been invited to play Schottenfest in Vienna - getting there proved a little difficult however! I had booked a flight with Air Berlin from the island of Sylt for the morning of the 2nd December - and a week before that I got a message from Shane in Vienna asking me if Air Berlin had provided me with an alternative flight, as they had gone bankrupt and would not be flying me!!
After a lot of calls, emails and internet searching - I settled on taking a train after the gig on Friday night to Husum, there I would be collected by a lovely couple, Sabine and Sterni, who gave me a bed and brought me back to the airport at 5am (even though I had never met them before!), getting a train to Hamburg and catching my new flight to Vienna! Thanks to Mel and Ulf for helping me get sorted!
Arriving in Vienna, I was met at the airport by Michael, who was raving about the previous night's gig - making me very jealous I couldn't arrive earlier! He dropped to my hotel (The RubyMarie) so I could get a little nap before the gig later, and try catch up on some lost sleep! I was collected later by Dave who I kept missing in dance of lifts, lobbies and receptions, and we headed to the venue where I soundchecked and met more of the Schottenfest team - a nicer bunch of people you could not wish to meet!
The gig started with a gorgeous set from Doug Andrew - a US native but Vienna dwelling singer songwriter. I was up next to a room of incredible listeners, which was scary in the dark - but more so when they brought the lights up! Dave Arcari closed out the night with an absolutely rocking and stomping blues set!
Sunday was closing day - with an open session in the Ruby Lissi hotel and so much talent from the festival participants to festival volunteers and Vienna Songwriting circle members. We played for a few hours and then the closing party was another massive sing song that started at 8pm and finished at 2am. We had the greatest night of music and friendship!
Following the Irish tour we were back on a plane and headed back to Germany! A four night run of house concerts around Dusseldorf and Cologne, with an instore in our favourite record store - Rainking Records. Gorgeous nights all round, with a surprise visit from the very talented Ben Turner who we discovered busking in Galway while on the Irish tour!
Following a very short trip home to Ireland - less than 36 hours - we were back on a plane to Hamburg for 3 more gigs. More amazing people came to the gigs on the mainland and then we took a late night train to the island of Sylt for the last of the gigs which was the icing on the cake! We took a walk along the cliffs and drank hot choclate under christmas trees and ate cake like it was going out of fashion!
Mark's Irish tour took us all over Ireland over 3 weeks playing in Cork, Gaway, Donegal, Belfast, Dublin, Kerry, Mullingar and back to Cork again! Hot water bottles were at the fore and we took the Connor Pass into Dingle - and played an instore for Mazz in the record store there!
Kaltern Pop is a sister festival to Haldern Pop in Germany. Brain child of Stefan Reichmann, Kaltern was the village he visited with his family as a child, and he decided to bring a music festival there. A German speaking town in the vineyards of northern Italy, it has all the traits of Germany and Italy rolled into one. Confusing I tell you! We were scheduled to play 3 gigs - two in the village and one at the top of the mountian. The first gig was in a cinema and the second in a wine museum - both amazing gigs with incredibe audiences. But the third gig topped them all. On Staurday morning we drove up a windy road, to take us to the 'Penegal' at the top of the mountain, to meet Cantus Domus - the choir who we would sing with today. We walked in and they were rehearsing in the most beautiful room I have ever played in! They had arranged 'It beats me' for Mark, and 'Lilacs' for me. I litereally cried during the rehearsal because it was so beautiful!
We weren't quite sure how any people would turn up - there was seating set out for about 40 people - but once the doors opened, people just kept coming in! there were about 180 there by the time we started and the atmosphere was electric. Mark and I performed 3 songs and the choir joined us and then we did Lilacs and I performed Little Bird, This Secret and Both Sides Now. Hands down - gig of the year!
Mark's new CD came out on 20th October and we were in Switzerland to play a few gigs. The incredibly talented ROMY was also on the tour for added awesomeness, keys and vocals too! We played a series of gigs - with a cool caravan for a green room, a dance studio for a gig, a mountin side restaurant gig overlooking lake zurick and a chic furniture store gig! We got to the local prettiest cow competition (not it's real name!) and saw the cow parade and got to spend time with Fat Rosie.
I was super excited to head back to Kew in London to meet up with the Harris' and play in their amazing gallery space again - this time solo! Elizabeth collected me from the airport and we headed to the house for coffee and cake and a snooze before the gig! My friend Fleur managed to capture some great shots of the night too!
My friend Joanna kindly hosted an intimate evening in her home - where we had sushi and wine - and songs of course! Fleur popped along again to take some photos!
Next I was off out to Cambridge to hang with friends Dan and Zulfiya. Dan runs a few open mic nights so we played some music and I got to be a tourist around the beauticul city of Cambridge and even went for a punt!
I decided to extend my UK trip and take a train up to Newcastle to hand with my friend Sarah and go along to a John Smith gig in the Sage. We walked on the beach, collected sea glass, jumped up at an open mic and talked the ears off each other!
September saw a return visit to the US with Mark Geary. Flying from Dublin to Charlotte, onto Louisville, Kentucky to meet with Mark's label and perform at NULU Festival. We dropped into WFPK radio for a quick promotional slot before wandering the streets of Lousiville, finding all the good coffee and some great cookies!
NULU Fest is a festival in the newer part of Louisville - celebrating the locality with a big block party bringing local businesses together with stalls, stands and merchandise from local suppliers and craft suppliers. We spent the morning wandering round the streets ans checking in with friends and family of the festival. I even managed to pick myself up a festival t-shirt!
That evening before we played, we had a jam with Ben Solee, who would then jump up and join us for a song! The set was great, just as the sun was setting and the stage lights really took effect!
The following day we had a day off, and no visit to Louisville is complete with out a visit to the Muhammad Ali Centre. We followed this by checking out Hotel 21C - the museum hotel with an awesome art gallery built in!
The following morning saw a super early uber driver come collect us for an early flight to NYC via Charlote. Dragging luggage we wandered round Mark's old neighbourhood searching for a cafe that was no longer there. We eventually settled on visiting Cafe Orlin, the soon to close famous East Village cafe, where Mark used to work. We met Vitor the owner, who shouted us our lunch!
Tuesday night saw us catch Mark's brother Karl read excerpts of his book Montpelier Parade in the Irish Arts Centre, alongside the stunning Jenna Nicholls and the very talented Gerry Leonard.
I took myself to the infamous Russ and Daughters for a lox bagel lthe next morning before meeting Mark at the bus station to head upstate to play a gig with Peter O'Toole. We jumped on a bus and headed to Marlboro, where we met Stephanie who took us to The Falcon - an amazing venue! Upstairs a beautiful space and restaurant and downstairs another venue housed amongst music memorabilia! We had a beautiful gig, in the round with Peter and then were joined by the incredible Dylan Doyle on guitar!
Back to NYC on the train the next evening for a night off, before we jumped on a train again on Friday for another house concert with some Bruce Springsteen fans and first time house concert attenders! A pot luck dinner and a totally acoustic gig with great people! Jumped on the train back to NYC again that night!
We were doing a joint house concert the next night in a private home with Mark's brother Karl, the incredibe Jenna Nichols joined us for a few songs too which was a lovely warm up for the following night's gig in The Scratcher. Joined by Justin Carroll too, we played to an incredible packed house and warm vibes! An amazing gig to end a brilliant trip to the East Coast.
I've never been to Berlin and wasn't quite sure what to expect! Musically - I'd booked a couple of open mic nights and a small gig. Booked myself into an airbnb and had some time to go wandering!
I'm missing pictures from the first night - but am told that I'll be getting a video soon. It was a great open mic called 'Going Somewhere' run by Eddy in the Little Stage Bar. Loads of great talent and great craic had all night. Met loads of brilliant people and roped some people into coming to my gig the following night.
Thursday was my little gig in UnterRock - a small underground bar that was very cute! Thanks to Martina, Alex and Nadine for coming along after the night before!
My last gig was the open mic at Dodo bar. An eclectic night with great performances and a visit from my friends Beccy and Spencer who were on their honeymoon!
After a last minute cancellation for other gigs I decided to make my way to Germany for a few days. I reached out to some friends and managed to put a little tour together. It truely was a tour of friendships and also showed me that if you just try - you can do it!
Gig number one was in Cafe Kultur Lichtung - an amazing room where Michael and Alex looked after me so well. A gorgeous group of people came along - old and new faces alike! I did worry that no one would come to see me - and was relieved to have a room of listening faces to look out on!
Gig number two brought me back to an amazing room I shared with Mark and Chrissie Poland in January - the most beautiful home and stables I have ever seen! My friends Shel and Stefan drove me all the way to Haldern in Friday evening traffic to make sure I got there. It was a beautiful evening - and even a little swallow decided to joing us!
Saturday saw gig number 4 and 5 take place in Dusseldorf! I got to play Dusseldorf's only second hand record store in the afternoon and the most beautiful living room concert in the evening! Lilo welcomed me into Suse's home and made sure I was chilled out before the gig!
Sunday was my last day in Dusseldorf and the very lovely Damo allowed me to come and do an afternoon concert in his gorgeous cafe. Amazing fresh baked cakes and passionately brewed coffee - along with me and my songs!
Electric Picnic was crazy and kind in equal measure! Mark and I drove down on Saturday for our first performance - with a quick song on Newstalk's Off the Ball (and some football talk that I avoided!) before we hit the stage at the Declan Sessions. Glen Hansard jumped up for a song too!
Sunday we drove down a little earlier - I was playing a solo slot at 2.30 so we got in about 1.30. My fear was that people were going to be still in tents and no one would show up - but thankfully a lovely crowd turned out!
We spent the afternoon wandering before an interview and song at the Hotpress tent and back to Artlot at the Glow Depot for Mark's slot. The stunning Lisa Lambe joined us for a song! We had an impromptu song on the Salty Dog too with the Square Pegs before hitting the road home!
Return visit to LA in August
Mark had booked a few gigs on the west coast and I decided that I was due a return visit! So I put the call into a friend of mine, Mel, who I met on the retreat, and asked if she could put me up! Flights booked and we headed off on the 9th August.
With gigs in the famous Hotel Cafe in Hollywood, house concert in Palos Verdes, LeStats in San Diego and a final house concert in the valley we had a busy 4 days!
Mark left on the Monday and I set about making plans for the rest of my stay. I went to an open mic in the Lost Knight, wrote with Lori Barth again, played a gig in Pasadena in Griffin's of Kinsale and Republic of Pie, was in a flashmob for a sitcom pilot, met Dr Hunt from Grey's Anatomy, wrote in Paramount Studios and witnessed a solar eclipse!
Part one - LA bound!
I flew out to LA on the 4th June - and had already decided at that stage to extend my stay by another couple of weeks. I flew Aerlingus direct to LA - and it was a dream! We flew over Greenland and Canada on the way and I was astounded by the beauty of it all
I got into LA that night, rented a car and was on my way! I was staying in Santa Monica, by the sea, though any time I went there, June Gloom was hanging around and I didn't get to see too much. My mission for the week was to do some writing - so I wrote with Alan on Monday, Lori on Thursday, Sandra on Friday and Alan again on Saturday. I had a gig in Pasadena on the Wednesday and met up with a college buddy on Tuesday - a flat out week that certainly got me used to driving in LA.
Part two - Idyllwild
After leaving my hotel on Saturday morning, I took to the road to Idyllwild - an Alpine like village at the top of a mountain! Once I got to the bottom it was a 40mile drive to get me 1 mile high! Saturday night was a house concert in Jen's and then an early start at the retreat the next day on campus. The house concert was fab - a gorgeous gathering of people to listen to me and Michaut Perkins before we all headed for the retreat the next day.
Then the writing began! On Sunday I wrote with Magali, Monday with Mel, Tuesday with Brian, Wednesday with Jen, Thurdasy we polished the songs for our performance that night and Friday I wrote with Dena. A super busy and exhausting week - but toatlly worth it! There are some videos of the songs on my facebook page!
Part three - back to LA!
adWas super excited to get back to LA to hang out with my friend Jeanie - who I had met in Europe when we were on tour together. She was a great tour guide and photographer we even got to spend the day at Universal!
Part four - Portland and Seattle!
Part of the reason I decided to stay in the US was because Mark was coming out and playing some gigs (the other part was that I left my job before I left Ireland!)
On Saturday we took a train from Portland to Seattle for a great house concert in Teresa's hippy downstairs living room!
Then it was back to Portland to settle in with the most amazing hosts! We were staying with Aoife and Dave and their two kids Lauren and Alice. Aoife and Dave have been living in Portland for a couple of years, and in the states for about 12. They gave us the most unbelievable welcome and made us part of their gorgeous family for the time we were there, as well as organising some lovely concerts. Our last one was a house concert in their home - souvenir ticket below! :) We did the Shanghai Tunnel Tour, ate an insane ammount of doughnuts, drank all the good coffee and let's not talk about the ice cream!
I had such an incredible trip - I'm already planning the next one! West Coast - here I come!
I was super excited to play the gorgeous GlassHouse stage at Vantastival on the 3rd June. An amazing little room, with a creeping green backdrop and a well!
Was super excited to join amazing musicians John Byrne, Dave McGuinness, Stephen McHale, Duncan Maitland, Mark Colbert and Neil Dorrington on stage for a few songs in tribute to Fleetwood Mac's album Rumours, which is 40 years old this year! The wonderful Carol Keogh, Sinead White, Jess Kav, Tara Harrison, Roisin O, Roisin El Cherif, Niall Thomas, Jack Maher, Jem Mitchell and Mark Caplice also took part! A couple of videos here and here!!
Photo by Jean McDonald
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