Back in the USA (Spring 2015)
Hello and an early ‘Happy St. Partick’s Day’ to you all.
I just wanted to drop you a note to let you know what’s been happening over the last nine months and what’s coming up! Nine months seems to be the average time I send a newsletter. Nothing about that is planned, everything else I do requires planning, I guess this might just mean I have a bit of free time every nine months or so, or maybe every nine months I come up for air.
I’m on the road in the USA at the moment with The Chieftains. It’s our annual spring tour. I’ve been doing this with The Chiefs for 8 years now. It is always a busy time. Always subject to the weather and always across the whole of America. This year however we’re touring from East Coast to West Coast and I am a little thrown. Normally we start in California and the light summer clothes get packed away for the majority of the colder States but this year everything is turned on its head and I’ve no idea what to do with my puffa jacket and boots (2 pairs) for the final two weeks. Such is the vastness of the States; you will always experience every season.
Since my previous newsletter in July I’ve been on the road with The StepCrew. It was the summer of The StepCrew actually as we did most of the major Irish festivals in the USA and had a trip over to Switzerland too, where Cara Butler, my left arm, friend, confidant, colleague and bestie took this amazing photo. It was used as the front cover of the Ohio Irish American News. If she ever stops dancing she has another profession.
The StepCrew are going from strength to strength which is great as the team all put in a lot of hard work. The dancers especially. We do a lot of work in the USA but are hoping to do more work in Europe in the future. If you are interested in booking the show at all or finding out more about us you can contact us here:
I missed their January tour in Florida but I’ll be back with them again in August for more USA festival fun.
Shine have also been kicking up a storm.
We’ve signed with Lisa Whytock of Active Events (firstname.lastname@example.org) and are looking forward to future touring. One festival we are performing at over the summer which has a particular warm place in my heart, is the Hebridean Celtic Festival also known as the HebCeltFest. Shine are booked to play there on Saturday the 18th July in An Lanntair, the arts centre. This is my home town festival and one of the best on the Celtic Festival calendar and I say that with complete impartiality. Click here to find out more about the other artists involved. It’s a great excuse to visit the Islands if you really need one… Shine are also taking bookings for a tour later in this year. Contact Lisa above for details.
Without a doubt one of the best tours I did over the last 9 months was with country singer Trace Adkins. I met Trace via The Chieftains back in February 2013 and once in the studio had a great fun with Trace and his producers Michael Spriggs and Jon Coleman. They invited me to perform at the Country Music Christmas Special in the Brookstone Arena, Nashville, Tennessee with Trace back in November 2013 (click here to watch that video) and from this I was asked to join Trace and his kick ass band for his Christmas tour November/December 2014.
Compared to the touring I’ve done previously in the USA this was a whole different ball game. For a start it was on a tour bus, you know one of those massive Prevost tour buses that all the ‘stars’ have.
Then I was singing to a country audience. Till this point in the USA I had performed to audiences who are primarily fans of ‘folk’ or ‘Irish’ or ‘Celtic’ music. For this tour Trace, who is a massive country star, was bringing along a lass from the Islands off the West coast of Scotland who was singing to them for some of the performance in a completely foreign language… The good news is: I won them over. Trace’s audience were lovely. The show is beautiful: the set perfect. Trace tells the background stories of all the various songs (I learned a lot) and the musicians are outrageous!! Top class country and bluegrass musicians with a glorious string quartet and vocalists and the best crew you could wish for. I rattled my way around American for 6 and half weeks on tour buses from upstate New York to Florida and Memphis, Tennessee to North Carolina, sleeping through the night and waking up in completely different states, time zones and weather cycles and loved every minute of it. I made friendships that will last forever and memories that will last that long too. I have to say I miss singing with Trace. He has an incredible smooth, deep voice and is a very generous performer. I look forward to working with him and the team again.
New solo album
I have finished recording my 3rd solo album entitled ‘Homelands’.
It came from my love of my home in Lewis, Scotland – being born there is the reason I am blessed to do what I do for a living – however I also now have a great love for my new home in Co. Wexford, Ireland. Ireland has been very good to me. The songs on this album relate to love and loss and home and emigration. They are emotive subjects we can all connect with. I had a fun time putting the album together even with its subject matter, pulling together a team of musicians I love working with – Brian Mcalpine, Aidan O’Rourke, Karol Lynch, Joe Csibi and Noel Eccles – for their remarkable musical abilities and their personalities. There was much laughter. I hope the warmth of this comes across in this recording.
I’ll be releasing ‘Homelands’ officially in July 2015 at the HebCeltFest in Lewis, it seems the perfect place, however pre-release copies are available to purchase here. If you require a copy for review or radio play please contact me with details via the website contact form.
I will be touring the new album soon. Check back for more info on that. I enjoy smaller scale touring as it can be much more personal so am interested in putting together house concerts. If you would like to host a house concert you can contact me at: email@example.com
Back in the USA
I am currently rattling along on another bus as I write. This time it’s day time with The Chieftains, Des Moines, Iowa to Lincoln, Nebraska. I’ve seen a lot of the USA over the years, in fact last year I spent 20 weeks here (don’t remind my Husband) there are still plenty of wide open spaces, especially on this route. The Chieftains have been doing this kind of fly/drive touring for 53 years now and they’re still up for it. Putting on a great show every night. It is no mean feat.
One of the very special things about tonight’s gig in Lincoln is that bluegrass fiddler and mandolin player from Nashville Deanie Richardson will be joining us tonight. She toured with The Chieftains for 5 years but is currently touring with Bob Seeger and the Silver Bullet Band. They’re arriving in town tonight too and have the night off so Deanie and a few others are coming to see our show and she’s bringing the fiddle. Cara, Deanie and I regularly keep in touch but as we’re working all over the globe don’t regularly get to see each other so spirits are high! Music and touring creates a special kind of bond.
If you’re coming to see tonight’s gig; I guarantee it’s gonna be a good one!
Thank you again for taking the time to read this newsletter. I welcome any feedback.
Wishing you all well.