If I’ve learned anything on this trip it’s that it’s a small world. And that people are amazing. And there are really good people out there. That's three things - I know! There were many moments of synchronicity on my trip and it made me sure that I was in the right place.
I flew from LA to Nashville, arriving to a hotter than usual October evening to rent a car and head for my host's house. I met Sharon and Chris Burgess in Dublin at the Ruby Sessions – the night Theo Katzman blew us all away (alongside the amazing Mick Pyro, stunnjng Eve Belle and dance-tastic Le Galaxie ). I mentioned a possible trip to Nashville and their immediate response was that I could stay with them. Numbers swapped and deal done. When I got in touch a couple of months ago they confirmed I could stay and took away the worry and stress of having to find somewhere to stay. I arrived to an amazing welcome, tour of the house and dinner cooked by chef Chris on the table. Additional furry welcomes from Panda (the cat who likes company while eating and will ‘ask' you to join her and purr contentedly when you do) and Ella, short for Nutella (the dog, who gets ridiculously excited at the prospect of a glass of water with ice cubes in it). Cuteness central. I had just arrived as the sun was setting over Old Hickory Lake and Sharon told me we could go kayaking and put on the pontoon. #happinessis
I headed for Thomm’s studio at 10am on Tuesday. By pure chance it was the same side of Nashville and only a 25 minute drive. After a quick chat and over coffee, we went through the songs, me playing them and him writing up charts for everyone the next day. It didn't take long, and if we'd recorded just that, me and him, I'd have been happy. I knew it was going to work out! I left after a couple of hours to visit the Country Music Hall of Fame, staying only 3hours, when I could have stayed me - well I actually couldn't as they were closing, but how and ever !
We did all the recording over two days, Wednesday and Friday, hanging with Lynn Williams on drums and Mark Fain on double bass. Andy was on hand to control the desk -and it all went so easily and quickly.
On the Thursday Tomm was teaching so I headed off to a writing session with Jason Herndon, who it turns out is guitar tech for Blake Shelton. As you do, like!
By the time Saturday came around we were mixing, and finished at 3 to head to a gig where Thomm was playing with his friends Peter and Eric. Sunday morning saw me back to listen through before I headed off after an hour and a half with the tracks on my hard drive. Record done!
Headed to meet Jason in a Starbucks to finish writing our song, before heading back to my hosts, for an afternoon on the pontoon, a long kayak and an evening of dinner, music and darts.
Nashville was amazing and I couldn't have asked for more - I'll definitely be back and I can't wait to release this record!
Booked myself a short trip to Germany to play a few gigs around Dusseldorf! A few days before I flew I got a request on Facebook to come and play at a summer party at a Klinic near Dusseldorf! It was HOT so I deserved that cocktail!
Following this gig, we jumped in the car and headed for Haldern, to spend some time with Catja and her animals, and play the amazing Haldern Pop Bar that night. It's been something I've wanted to do for some time, so I was delighted to be invited to play there!
Up early the next morning to go meet the guys from MuxxTV for a session before I headed back to my friends Sabine and Thomas for a house concert. Given the gorgeous weather - we made it a Garden Concert!
Then one more show before I headed home - it was a busy weekend! My friend Jules came to pick me up and take me to where she lives. She'd told me she lived in a place with a great community vibe, where they had communal spaces, one of which I would play in. What I got far exceeded what I expected! Nestled in a national park, the old hotel/nursing home building is home to 100 residents, of all ages who live together, but independently. They opened their homes to me and came to see me play in their common room, where I even got Jules up to play violin with me, after which we all had a huge barbecue with lots of Sect (german bubbles!)
Was very excited to be asked to Vienna to join the The Song Factory with my friend Ray Heffernan. Both of us met Shane O'Fearghail way back in the day in The Legal Eagle where we used to go to an open mic night on a Wednesday. The night has since moved, but it's still the Zodiac Sessions, only now in Bruxelles.
We arrived to Vienna, to Shane and a drink along the Danube before we got some traditions schnitzel and headed to catch up with some Austria dwelling musicians. Saturday morning we got prepped for a song writing session with some locals, and got to record some videos.
Let Go at the Song Factory
We spent the afternoon talking about music and songwriting before splitting up into groups to write together for an hour or so, and later perform what we had written. It's amazing what you can come up with when you've got a deadline fast approaching!
That night we played a set each in the Ruby Marie Hotel with great singalongs and an extended session!
After the Shannonside Winter Music Festival, Brendan and I decided it was time to make more music, and do something with the songs that we learned for the opening concert. Brendan made arrangements for us to go to Soundville Studios in Luzern, so I booked flights and headed his way. Over 10 days, we recorded 13 tracks, made videos in a swimming pool and did a photoshoot in a water reserve tank of a nuclear war bunker - sure where else would you do it?!
Here's a video from Neubad!
The record will come out in early 2019 - so stay tuned for updates!
Was beyond honoured to be invited to join a host of musicians to raise funds for the Together for YES campaign!
Anyone who knows me will have gotten the recommendation from me to listen to John Smith, so I was very excited to open for him at his Dundalk show at the Spirit Store.
As ever there was a gorgeous crowd in, along with a few of my cousins who had never been to the Spirit Store, and friends who came out to support me! Derek and the Spirit Store team made it the loveliest of evenings and a singalong to Great Lakes topped the whole thing off.
Like I said - check out John Smith!
I left Rob to head to work, with thoughts of a move to Berlin, I headed to Adrian’s super cool apartment and we spent the afternoon chatting. We got to Frollein Langer about 7 to set up, in a gorgeous living room style room, with a bathtub at the centre of it all. I played to a load of familiar faces and a few new ones too, at what was a beautiful night.
Off to Prague
The next morning I was up and at 'em, and on a train to Prague. Just over 4 hours railing though stunning countryside and I’m in another country. Travis O'Neill came to collect me from the train station and take me to my AirBnB. Travis is Irish and has lived in Czech for 7 years, playing music, currently with two outfits – Travis O'Neill and his Cardinal Sins, a rocking folk band who were got to see on St Patrick’s Day and Pipes and Pints a super popular Punk band. It was Travis that suggested I be booked for the St Patrick’s Day Festival.
We hung out for a bit and had a few Czech beers before I went for a wander and got my bearings. I'd missed out on a lot if sleep the previous two nights, so took an early night and got up to go for a wander round the city, in search of goof coffee and insta story shots!
Travis suggested I find Onesip Coffee and he was right! Great coffee and a little barrista store in the old town. Friendly staff asked what I was up to in Prague and I told them I was playing for the St Patrick's Day celebrations. Two flat whites and a few insta pics and I’m off on my way round the city. Along the river and over a bridge, back over Charles bridge and back to the apartment. I get an Instagram message from the guys in the cafe asking where I’m playing that night and Zdeněk who made my coffee came along with his girlfriend Teresa to the first of two shows in Prague, AND took some awesome photos!!
Myself and Travis had a gorgeous wee gig that we didn't want to finish - and the fact that the girl who was stage managing disappeared, meant we did a good few extra songs for a really beautiful audience! Prague was off to a great start!
Saturday was St Patrick's Day, the day of the Festival show, and also the day for Ireland to beat England in the Rugby and become 6 Nations and Grand Slam winners. Myself and Ivi headed to an Irish bar for food and to get a seat in advance of the match to revel in the atmosphere. I had to control myself and try not to shout and scream at the screens to keep my voice for the gig that night!
Back to the amazing Rock Cafe in the city centre to see Jameson had the place decked out fabulously, cocktails flowing and a face-painter installed painting flags and shamrocks all round! I was a bit anxious of how the gig would go - given St Patrick's Day is hardly the day for a singer songwriter to stand up and sing about their feelings! But the audience were amazing and listening and I met some great people! After my set Travis took to the stage with his brilliant band and was followed by a brilliant cocktail display and Blood or Whiskey! Gig photos below by the incredibly talented Ivi Rebova.
Ended up spending the whole day at the airport with majorly delayed flight - but it didn't dampen the mood! Looking forward to a return visit to Prague!
It's not every day you get asked to play at Twitter - but I was invited to take part in their International Women's Day lunchtime event!
I played a few songs at the beginning and the end of the event (after some string breakage, just as I was about to start!), and got to hear the lovely Lousie McSharry and the inspirational Sinead Burke speak about women who inspire them! #SheInspiresMe
The Open Door Sessions
Was invited to play at the Open Door Sessions in Bailieborough on the 16th of February and it was brilliant! Got to share the stage with fellow Carrickmacross band Native Talk - who were fab! Played new song 'Sorry' as a worldwide exclusive for them!
The CO Club
Then it was back to Oldcastle to one of my favourite ever gigs, in Crean's Bar. Sharing the night was Robert John Aldriff and Nuala Leonard was a total pleasure and once again the audience were quiet and listening intently! New song 'I've got news for you' got a first time airing, and even had some singing along!
Live at the Underground
Finally I was playing a headline gig at the Undergound on Dame Street, Dublin. The incredible Niall McGuigan opened the night with songs off his album Awareness and some Monoglian throat singing. My turn came and felt like it went very quickly - playing to a very quiet room, listening to every word - especially of the newer songs! There were some laughs, and apparently some tears - so a good balanced gig! Ha! Thanks so much to everyone who came out on a Sunday night to see me play, especially those who had to drive a distance!
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Celtic Connections - Glasgow
Then it was off to Glasgow for a flying visit to play at the Danny Kyle Stage at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall! I got to hang out with my friend Horse McDonald, who very kindly collected me from the airport and loaned me her guitar and we got to catch up. And I played a 20 minute set for a huge listening audience! Happy days!
Then I got to hang out with Dave Arcari and Margaret McDonald who I met in Vienna! They took me home with them to their gorgeous home in Balmaha and took me out for a walk around Loch Lomond and got to see the beautiful Ben Lomond topped in snow!
I was very excited to be asked by my college friend Brendan Walsh to join him for the opening concert performance at the Shannonside Winter Music Festival. Brendan and I spent a few weeks working on a repertoire, over whatsapp and emails, as he lives in Switzerland! We performed a range of songs, some Irish folk, a couple of mine and some other curveballs just for the craic! Check out some of the songs below!!
After the opening concert we played a few songs at Brendan's Picker's Sessions and at a local restaurant over the weekend,and I got to share the stage with the great Luka Bloom! It was a brilliant festival with an endless supply of amazing music, that even took over Bunratty Castle! Check it out and go next year - you will not be disappointed!
I booked a gorgeous little airbnb for myself after the festival to do some writing and work on some new music. A converted barn, in Fanore, with a pot belly stove and a fresh homemade loaf waiting for me on my arrival! Limited wifi and blustery winds and mist kept me indoors and ensured I got some work done! More of that to come at upcoming gigs! Brendan also came to visit and we went for a wander, and we made a couple of videos - below!
Brendan and I have loads of plans for this year - so stay tuned for some more music from us!
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!
News from Grainne