Thursday, December 09, 2010

Festivals & coffee

I am nearing the end of 3 full months on the road.  Maryland Renaissance Festival was the start on September 11 for 4 weeks.  Then directly on to Texas Renaissance Festival for 5 weeks.  Then Highlands and Islands Festival in Gulfport, MS, followed by a few days in New Orleans on my way to the Celtic Nations Festival in Lake Charles, LA.  Made my way to Houston to record with Michelle Levy for my next CD, then finished out the season of Texas Renaissance Festival on Thanksgiving weekend.  Last week, I visited family and friends throughout west Texas and New Mexico and now I'm back in Austin, TX.  Last night I had a lovely time playing at a Genuine Joe Coffeehouse with my musician friends, Jonathan Milton and Michelle Hedden.  Tomorrow and Saturday evenings, I am singing with Texas Early Music Project for their Christmas concert.  I will look for pics and post them soon :-)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Some time later

So Maryland was awesome.  I hope to be able to return to that faire at least for a short time each year. 
I have performed 5 weekends at Texas Renaissance Festival with Istanpitta and this last weekend I had the honor of singing for Highlands and Islands Games and Celtic Festival.  Lots of really wonderful folks there.  Word is they've already decided to have me back next year!

I am now sitting in my cozy van in a state park just south of New Orleans.  Didn't know there was a "south of New Orleans", did you?!  There's not much real estate between New Orleans and the ocean, but here I am camping in what land there is.  Of course, it is raining so much that I could just be washed away by morning.  Next weekend I am playing Celtic Nations Festival in Lake Charles, LA.  They have a great line up planned.  I'm excited to be able to hear some great tunes.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Trixie

Trixie is here!!!  Trixie is a five course (10 strings set up in pairs) Irish cittern or bouzouki.  She sounds amazing.  There is so much richness and color.  Both highs and lows come through bright and clear.  She has a pick-up installed that I used to record a little bit just to compare Molly (the octave mandolin that I have been playing for 3 years).  The difference was stunning.  I can't wait to show you all.  I am recording my next CD, and Trixie is going to make it sound richer and fuller.  Gonna be great!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Adventure Day

Part of why I've chosen the life I live is to see the beauty in this country as I travel. Most of the time when I'm actually traveling, as in I have a destination, I don't stop to see the sites. I just want to get to the gig. However, many of my gigs are several weeks long. I camp during the week and perform at fairs during the weekend. That means there is time to see the sites as well as practice, work on new stuff, and do the never ending office type work. There are way too many weeks that I let the practicing and office work take over. I have decided, no matter what, one day a week shall be adventure day.
Last week, I went to Sandy Point State Park. I was surprised to find a real life actual factual beach. I had not planned to find a beach, but luckily my van contains everything I own, so I hopped in the back and found my swimsuit and sunscreen and practically ran to the beach. The sand was the texture and color of "sugar in the raw". I sat on the sand with my feet in the water letting the waves roll up and splash me. It was heavenly. I'm sure the place is packed during the summer, but in Sept on a Wed, there were a few dozen cars. This park was the very last exit before crossing over the water on the Bay Bridge. It's a really long bridge and I could sit on the beach watching all of those people cross it to do whatever it is people have to do on an ordinary Wednesday.
Today, I took that bridge. It was super amazing cool. It made me think of my bridge engineer friend. I could completely see why bridges are fascinating. This bridge just seemed to go on forever. So much water to cross and all those boats down there... It was an incredible view. A little after the bridge, I took a turn down to Wye Island. My first stop was at a picnic table by the water. The ground was muddy just like a lake shore. I noticed the fish jumping and then I saw something floating and kind of white. Jellyfish! Once I noticed that one, I could see that this cove was FULL of them. If their main bodies were completely round, they would have been golf ball to baseball sized plus long flowing tentacles. After I took a picture I managed to tear myself away and moved on. Some of the trails in this park were crummy, but there were a couple that led thru the woods and ended at the water. My third stop did this and as I approached the water, a Bald Eagle flew from a tree near me. It flew out over the water safely away from the crazy red-haired girl. The trail at the end of the road was also pretty cool. There was a sandy beach at the end with fine nearly white sand. I took my shoes off and waded until I saw one of those cute little jellyfish. On the way out of the park, I stopped at the first stop where the jellyfish were numerous. The tide had come up and I couldn't see them. BUT I disturbed another mighty bird. He took off from a tree across the cove, but came back to the same tree. He stayed there so long, I had time to go to the van and grab my binoculars. An Osprey. Great adventure days. Life is good.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Maryland

Ah, Maryland Renaissance Festival. There are many things about this fair that make it special. I think those things over the years have created an environment where people know they can come into the fair and just enjoy things. There is no tipping, so people stay and listen in the lanes for a few minutes. They make eye contact. They stop and chat with performers. They know I don't expect a dollar. They are free to enjoy everything without the (real or suspected) look of hope or expectation in the performer's eye. Honestly, I hate the tipping thing at a festival. I feel like I'm begging. I want people to be free to stay through the last song without thinking that I expect them to save a dollar for me. Maryland saves me and the patrons from that whole ordeal and I appreciate it... and I really do think it has shaped the way the entire fair feels. Aside from that, the layout, hilly grounds with lots of shady trees make the place a simply nice place to hang out. Even with tons of entertainment, I never have a problem with other acts' sound bleeding into my assigned space. Acts are friendly and good. It's just a good place to be.
Last weekend was Scottish weekend. This next weekend is Irish weekend and I will be performing 7 times a day. There is really no way to avoid me! Weekend after that is Pirate weekend and then Celtic weekend! I'm thrilled to be here. If you are anywhere near here during the run of this festival, it is worth a stop or a drive to enjoy a day out here!!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Silver Leaf done

Silver Leaf Renaissance Festival is finished. I have been "resting" in NC for the last few days filling my "spare time" with new organizing clients. Usually, I give myself a day or two to recover from a 12 hour drive and performance weekend, but two new clients needed help with deadlines. Luckily, both clients were very eager to get stuff done. Progress keeps me going and before I knew it I was forgetting how tired I was. Tomorrow, I have a day off. I have a lot to do before I drive up to Maryland Renaissance Festival at the beginning of September.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Silver Leaf Renaissance Festival

I've been here for 3 weekends so far, each weekend better than the one before. I hope that trend continues!
This is a lovely little festival near Kalamazoo, MI. Lots of good entertainment, food and funny people. There are two more weekends, so come out if you are anywhere near!

Performing the first weekend....
Who would you choose... troll or knight.... ??? :-)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The May Report

Hello! I have enjoyed a wonderful month of May. First, I sold my house! I am officially homeless except for the fabulous van that I built just for this traveling purpose and some wonderful friends who let me treat their house as if it was mine. I even have veggie and flower gardens at one friend's house. I love home improvement, so it sure does help to stay awhile and paint a bathroom or something!

Other than that, I am working on tons of new music. I started working on a song in Scots Gaelic. A fabulous singer Rachel Walker has recorded this traditional song, and who better to learn from? I have several jigs in Irish and many other songs in the works... and lots of new instrumental tricks up my sleeves.

On the future performance front, I have contracts for Silver Leaf, Maryland (4 weekends), and Sherwood Forest!!! I'm thrilled and honored to be returning to all of those fairs. Now to fill in some weekends with Celtic festivals and other assorted ideas.

The final news of the month: I have ordered a Trillium 5 course Cittern. I just sent off the deposit check, and I'm still in the freaking out mode of a big purchase especially one with such high expectations. I don't want to let this amazing instrument down. I will do everything in my power to make it proud!

Here are a few photos that "Photography on the Run" caught recently.

These two were from Sherwood Forest Faire.

These two were from Scarborough Faire.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Facebook

Since getting a facebook account, I have been writing in the blog less and less. I can just post a sentence and everybody I know knows what's going on in my day! So, if you want to know what's going on, just friend me there. I do have an email list as well. I send a note out only occasionally. Send me an email if you'd like to be on that list. :-)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Scarborough Faire

Yeah, yeah... Are you going to Scarborough Faire.... YES, I did! I had a great time as the Visiting Musician. I sang a song with Queen Anne's Lace, I sang a song for Stonehenj, I sang at the pub sing on the King's Pub stage at the end of the day - which was a party on stage! And I sang two stage times each day at the Sea Hag Stage. It's an eating area, which means that at least there are people to witness my existence, but the sign for this stage, even if you knew I was performing, was difficult to find. I had a great time and made a few new friends and made a few people smile. Sunday, I did a lot of playing at each of the bridges. I love becoming a picturesque part of the ambience. Some of my favorite moments come in the form of small children's reactions to me, the instrument, or the songs. Very rarely is the moment captured by a photo and even rarer still that I would actually get to see the photo.
This sweet child stood and watched intently song after song. Her parents graciously allowed her to be in her own world absorbing the moment. When they asked if she would like to sit next to me for a photo, she reacted as if she had been asked to sit NEXT TO a mighty but dangerous animal that before had been able to watch from a safe distance. It's one thing to watch at a safe distance, but sit NEXT TO the lion?!?! After a bit of coaxing by Grandpa, she decided it would be ok, but just for a minute. I hope the next time I meet her, she is past her shy phase and will sing a song with me!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Music Video!



I have a music video!!!
Here it is on YouTube: Click here Please leave comments and pass the link on :-)
And you can see a high resolution version by clicking HERE.
This video was done by Joe Mizera of Mizera Digital Video.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sherwood Forest Faire

First, if you have a chance, GO TO THIS FAIRE!!!! This is a first year fair that every person involved has really busted some keister. The faire is huge for a first year and it is very well thought out with only one corner cut that I have found so far, and that is that the programs are simple a piece of black and white paper... but there's at least a good map and proper schedule! I have one more weekend of performance and that is the first weekend of April... the last weekend of the faire. Seriously, come out and support this faire!! You won't be disappointed :-)

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

North Texas Irish Festival


I can't begin to describe how excited I was when I was asked to play for this festival. This is a festival that draws 70,000 people over three days. Then, to top it off, I was asked to present a 45 minute workshop on Irish Gaelic song. I was super excited, but of course, a bit nervous about that one for sure. Everything went great. I had a lovely Friday evening set. EJ Jones joined me for the Saturday set which had quite a good audience. I taught my class Saturday afternoon and it was absolutely the highlight of the weekend. Everybody was enthusiastic and thrilled to find that they actually could learn two songs in Irish. I saw almost every student in my Sunday audience, so naturally I encouraged them to sing, and they did!! I love Irish traditional music and this was my chance to practice the tradition of passing it on.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Drum roll, please

My empty 2004 Cargo Sprinter Van:

Seat covers and privacy curtain in the "private" position.
Now transformed to a wee house on wheels!
Complete with fold out bed up front, fridge, counter top, clothes bar.
PS... The floor is not pink. My iPhone cover got in the way. When it warms up maybe I'll take another photo and replace this one.

Still to go: wire drawers will go under the counter in this space at the back of the van, a shower space will go between the shelves and the bed, and a canvas/vinyl cover for the back with windows, door zipper and space for the A/C over this back door space, so the doors can be left open, but keep the bugs out and good air in.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Introducing


Some fairs like to plant musicians, especially harpers, in a picturesque spot and let them play according to a schedule that doesn't require them to clear the stage for the next act because they are the only one playing in that spot. I have always loved this idea. Since I built my cart, I really enjoy sitting under a tree, being visible, but not intrusive. I have been encouraging fairs to utilize this idea. I have two fairs coming up in the next couple of months that are letting me do this. This A-frame sign should help me out by creating my own under-the-tree stage. The sign will post the times I plan to play. This along with the cart and maybe a rug will give me a mobile stage for any fair.
This was at Maryland in September. I had a mic stand which I disguised quite well. Now, I have a hidden microphone. A small mic hides in my costuming totally out of view. NOW, I'm ready! :-)

Sunday, February 07, 2010

And now...

2010 started with a nice relaxing brake. I have had the chance to rest, schedule a few things, and sell my car to buy a cargo van. Rest was badly needed after three months in Texas staying with friends or camping at the festival.
In the scheduling department, there are some very exciting things coming up. I'm playing for four out of six weekends of a brand new Medieval Faire near Austin, TX called Sherwood Forest Faire. They have done a lot of very good publicity, they have an amazing array of vendors and a fabulous list of performers. I totally encourage everyone to come out and support this fair.
One of the weekends I won't be at Sherwood, I will be performing and teaching at NORTH TEXAS IRISH FESTIVAL in Dallas, TX. The all caps are there for a reason. I am very very excited and honored to be performing at the second largest Irish festival in the states, second only to Milwaukee. Only a week ago, I was asked to present a short workshop on Irish Gaelic song. I'm teaching it from the perspective of a non-native speaker, and I'm really looking forward to it.
The other weekend of the six goes to San Antonio Highland Games. San Antonio is a smaller festival, but they bring in some really great musicians. I went as a patron last year and found plenty to entertain me.
When 2010 began, I set a goal to do more Celtic festivals. These two really help kick off that goal very well. I hope to catch a couple more this year. The year is still young, so I don't know what I will be doing the rest of the year, but I'm hopeful about a few Renaissance festivals as well.
Please check out my calendar for the specific dates... and the websites of the festivals for locations, etc.
Oh, the van! I am converting a Cargo Sprinter Van into a small RV. I will post some photos of my conversion work soon.