Friday, 29 September 2017

Knitting the border together #WATWB


I am joining in today with the We Are The World Blogfest - a monthly burst of blogging across the Internet to bring Positive News to everyone's attention.  
In Darkness, Be Light.  

This is the seventh month of the We Are the World Blogfest and up till now many of my stories have been music based.   But this month I'm shifting the focus to Art.  
I saw this lovely story last month about an art installation that happened in August - I thought you would enjoy it.    

Soften the Border was a temporary art installation in August on the Irish border between Blacklion and Belcoo - literally knitting the border together - I wish I'd seen it.  

The Belfast based artist, Rita Duffy explains:    
"As the world lurches further into fragmented and polarised realities, I feel that we are ever more dependent upon Art to keep lines of communication open and to create environments in which silenced communities are empowered to change the narratives of conflict and loss which may have dominated their lives." 




The cohosts for this month are: 



Check out theirs and other stories on the Facebook thread here

Sunday, 24 September 2017

September Days

It always feels slow in September to get back into the swing of things.   I love the longer days of Summer where there's no appointments and no hurry (and this year no sun... humph).

Then appointments and deadlines start to creep in and somehow the weeks get shorter - how come it's the weekend again can anyone tell me?

So while the berries appear and leaves start to fall, slowly things get pulled back into some sort of order.

I remember reading a comment from David Hockney once that Winter has the most light because the bare branches of the trees let in so much more light - read the post here - and it feels a bit like that in work too - more clarity comes in the early days of Autumn.   Maybe it's because this is my birth month too and always feels like a new beginning.

Talking of David Hockney, if you happen to be in New York the Metropolitan Museum of Art is scheduled to exhibit David Hockney, which showcases the artist. Hockney will also be featured in the upcoming exhibition David Hockney: 82 Portraits and a Still Life at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. There's an organisation called Artsy.net who are trying to make art accessible to everyone and are assisting in promoting various exhibitions.  The Met always sounds so grown up and arty to me - one of these days I'll perhaps get a chance to visit.  

Anyway ... I digress.

Back at the end of July I told you that we had completed our new album in time to launch it at our festival - it was very last minute and we were lucky to get a short run of CDs made quickly.
The rest of the main run of CDs arrived at the weekend. Woohoo!!  It's always really exciting to get those boxes of perfectly wrapped little bundles of music - when they're shrink wrapped and ready for sale they feel so much more real.

So we are now finally in a position to start promoting the album and over the coming weeks we'll slowly be getting them out to radio and to magazines.

In answer to a question on one of my blog post weeks ago,  there are lots of ways to hear what we've been creating ....(I'm such a bad business woman not to have answered sooner! sorry Kate)

The new CD is now available to download through iTunes and you can listen on Spotify (please follow if you're listening in there).   You can hear snippets of all the songs on my website here - at that link you can also download the CD from CD Baby.  And if you'd like an actual physical CD you can buy directly from us here at Ballyneddan Cottage.

We've also updated the tour lists for the next while.

Over the coming months I'm planning to write a bit about the stories behind the songs -  they are all stories from here or from our travels, with several having political rants attached.  So be warned.

In the meantime, have a lovely weekend.  

We enjoyed listening to this busker at the market in South Brittany
during our short stay last month - this was the only day it didn't rain! 





Tuesday, 12 September 2017

House concerts - the new folk clubs


In recent years, we've played quite a few house concerts.  They're an absolute joy.

Where someone has a large living room or a separate room they can use, it has taken the place of folk clubs in America and is now becoming popular all across Europe.  For the performer it's fun because we don't need a sound system and we're much closer to the audience and can judge when we need to change direction more quickly.  
Here's a snap shot of 3 that we did on the same tour, the year before last, in Europe.
Beside the piano in Michel and Christine's kitchen in Orsay


The audience in Orsay


Tom amusing people with his "eggs" solo



This one was the first concert of our 2015 tour to Europe - a house concert in Orsay just outside Paris where about 40 guests arrived into Christine and Michel's house, each bringing a dish of food with them.   Wine was served and we played a 80 minute set and then joined the visitors for a buffet supper which went on well into the night.   And it was the night before my birthday, although I'd mentioned it to no-one but it still felt like a special night for me.   Orsay is a University town so there were lots of international academics there, particularly physicists and internet security researchers for some reason which was really interesting plus I got a chance to practice my French. And I even got our one French song dusted off. 

The next day, my actual birthday, we spent the day on the road driving to Munich - it took us 11.5 hours .. yawn ... but we were still fresh at the beginning of the trip and it was actually not the worst way to pass the day.   We split the driving and got to our friends house to be greeted by a birthday cake and a lovely dinner. 
Supper time in Kanne's house

The next house concert came half way through - we took a day up into Denmark when we were in the North of Germany.  Our host there, Kanne, is a performer herself and she and her husband Jørn have a wonderful concert room.
Kanne getting the audience going

Another pause for food in Denmark
It's our second time there and because it was midweek she decided to just have a small evening - So she put on a 3 course meal for 30 people plus us!!  Small indeed.   And I'd only suggested that we'd pop up to see her for a couple of hours to have a coffee :)  She is such a delightful woman and we had a brilliant night, meeting up with lots of people who had visited the festival here in Rostrevor as well.  
The audience in Luxembourg

The concert room in Luxembourg
From there we headed back down into Germany, through Kiel and around Berlin and then made our last visit of the European leg of the tour into a small village in Luxembourg called Ell, where our host Soren had laid on a 3 course dinner for 60 people!   I kid you not.   We had champagne, did a set, went and joined the visitors for a fish starter, went back to the concert room for the second set and sold out of CDs, then back downstairs for the main course and desserts and cheese.  Again, like the other two nights we met lots of really interesting people.  In Luxembourg, I'm sure I've mentioned this before, everyone speaks at least 3 languages, most speak 4 and several speak 5 - fluently!.  When I asked which language should I use they said either German or French, but we all understand English - it was quite confusing at the start.   Eventually it ended up a mishmash of GerFranglais
photo courtesy of Romain at our house concert in Ell Luxembourg








Of course, there are much smaller house concerts too - we were just very fortunate on that trip.   We've done several in a sitting room with 8 or 10 people and had just as much fun - some are very regular events for the host and are run like a concert hall, others are very cosy and intimate and are about having friends around and supporting live music.

Have you ever been to a house concert?  Or have you hosted one?   What do you think?